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tv   Hearing on Flint Michigan Water Contamination  CSPAN  March 17, 2016 8:00pm-9:30pm EDT

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district of columbia talks about the investigation into the e-mail sent to and from hillary clinton's personal server during her time as secretary of state. what developments he thinks we can expect in the coming weeks. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 a.m. eastern friday morning. joined the discussion. >> coming up tonight, michigan governor rick snyder and epa administrator jane mccarthy testify on the flint water contamination. national security advisor susan rice on policy in central and south america. followed by senator jeff sessions on the role of populism in the 2016 campaign. house oversight and government reform committee held its third hearing on the contaminated water in flint, michigan with epa administrator gina mccarthy and michigan governor rick snyder testified. this is three and a half hours.
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rep. chaffetz: the committee will come to order. i can declare recess at any time. we have the third in a series of hearings we are doing, examining the federal administration's save drinking water act, dealing with the crisis in flint, michigan. i appreciate the witnesses here
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today. i appreciate the strong public participation and interest in hearing. i would remind those participating this is a congressional hearing. properd appreciate your decorum in this room. there are to be no shows of expression about positive --expression, positive or negative. we appreciate your help in that way. really make a few observations, then turn it over to the ranking member. there are people still today in flint, michigan who are waking up this morning, they cannot drink the water. and they can't take a shower. they are using a bottle of water to drink and take a shower. i can't even imagine my family having to go through that in the u.s. with able to visit flint
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number of members this past saturday. this is a crisis. it affects a lot of people. i think these hearings have been productive. there are people that have been exposed to drinking lead laced water for more than a year. this is, i believe, a failure at every level. most everybody has knowledged that. let's remember that flint city was a city in crisis. a financial situation that was dire at best. the people of michigan made a decision, emergency managers were put into place to save dollars. i think the idea, the i die -- the desire to reduce the rate of cost of water and improve the quality of water is where this started, but not where it ended up. at every level in michigan, from the city to the department of public works, to the emergency manager, to the department of
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environmental quality, there were failures. there is question about the accuracy of the data provided. some of those people were responsible and reported to the governor of michigan. i appreciate the governor volunteering, suggesting that testifying before congress to tell his version of the story was an appropriate thing. i appreciate your willingness to talk to this body. there are serious questions. we want to get to the bottom of it. the congress also has responsibility and jurisdiction over the epa. the funding being a federal organization. , and it'srisdiction important that we look from that perspective as well. in february, leann walters, who is here in the audience, finally got set up with what was going on, where she managed to get a hold of the epa. miguel dell tauro from the epa
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showed up on the scene and started to test the water. he should be highly commended for his actions and what he did. i appreciate leeann walters and her family for stepping forward. -- i can'tn express even imagine what her and her family have been through. the epa clearly knew this was a crisis. they knew this was a problem. susan hedman, as the industry or for the region -- as the administrator for region 5 new there was a problem. the mayor at the time in flint asked what had happened, is the water safe to drink? he was told, pay no attention to the report written by the epa. and he actually went on local television and told people it was safe to drink the water. move forward to september 24, one of the more troubling
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things. i want to put up this graphic. this is an internal e-mail within the epa, talking about susan hedman. perhaps she already knows this. but i'm not so sure flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for. one of the more offensive, concerning things i have seen. there were people, more than one, making decisions and thinking that, maybe flint is who we should not go out on a limb for. are you kidding me? flint is the number one place they should have been going out on a limb for. it's depressed economically. they are going through their own economic crisis. there is internal discussion at the epa deciding whether or not we should go out on a limb for them. days later, the apa
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administrator said ms. hedman's work was "very encouraging." gina mccarthy said "we are making good progress." it wasn't until january of 2016 that the epa took definitive action. a day after that, susan hedman resigned. later asked about that action, gina mccarthy, the epa administrator, said that regulation was -- that resignation was "courageous." that is something we will talk about here today. seen a lot of things before this committee. but the lack of action here, the lack of letting people know, is very concerning. let us recognize the ranking member, mr. cummings. rep. cummings: thank you very
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much mr. chairman. i too agree that this is a tragic situation. but let us be clear. this is not just on the epa. it's much bigger than that. so i take a moment, first of all, to thank leeann walters, professor edwards, and to the people of flint, many of whom have come here today -- they are walls,ll outside these unable to get answers, and probably feeling left out. but they probably felt left out for a long time. so mr. chairman, i take this moment to thank you. you did not have to do this. i asked you for a hearing and you granted us 3 hearings. and i really appreciate that. you see, because i live in a
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neighborhood where lead is a problem. i am very sensitive to this issue. governor snyder has been described as running the state of michigan like a business. well, what if this was a business? company that ran a sold toys laced with lead that children put in their mouths? what if those children were poisoned as a result? and what if that ceo ignored warnings for more than a year, as those kids got sicker and sicker and sicker? there is no doubt in my mind that if a corporate ceo did what governor snyder's administration has done, they would be hauled
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up on criminal charges. would be of directors thrown out, and shareholders revoked. the special counsel for the state attorney general's office has launched an investigation. and he says "the state officials could face charges including breach of duty, gross negligence, or even manslaughter.' charges he says "not far-fetched." on our committee, we have obtained documents showing that people all around the governor, including his chief of staff, was sounding the alarm's, but he either ignore them or did not hear them. so we are talking about quotes. let's talk about them,.
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. in 2014, the governor's top legal adviser had warned that on thehould "get back detroit system as a stopgap as soon as possible before this thing is too far out of control." that is the chief of staff. governor's 2015, the own chief of staff -- no, that was his legal advisor. but his chief of staff said in march 2015, "if we procrastinate any longer in doing something have real will trouble." that is from the chief of staff. in july, his chief of staff again warned that flint residents "are concerned, and rightfully so, about the lead levels that they are receiving." they are basically getting blown
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off by us." the document reveals failures at every level. led by governor snyder's handpicked appointees and the governor's fingerprints are all over this. is department of environmental quality, health and human services, his inner circle of top aides, his press staff, his chief of staff -- and of course the emergency managers the governor put in charge of flint. there will now be an entire generation, an entire generation of children who suffer from brain damage, learning disability, and many other horrible effects of lead poisoning that were inflicted on them by governor snyder's administration. there will be many children, mr. chairman, who will sit in the
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second and third grade that will not be able to read the words "s ee spot run," and won't know why. but the reason why is because there is lead in their veins. republicans are definitely trying to blame everything epa. so let me say this. i agree that the epa should have done more. they should have rushed in sooner to rescue the people of michigan from governor snyder's the addictive administration and its utter incompetence at every level. governor snyder's administration has primary responsibility for enforcement under the safe drinking water act, not the epa. governor snyder's demonstration chose to stick to the river for a source of water, not the epa. governor snyder's administration ignored warnings from the flint water treatment plant supervisor not to go forward with the
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switch, not the epa. governor snyder's administration falsely told the city of flint that corrosion control was unnecessary, not the epa. governor snyder's administration delayed erosion control four months, and harmed thousands of additional people in the process, not the epa. governor snyder's administration overruled the flint city council vote to return to clean detroit water, not the epa. epa close, yes i agree, the should have snatched control out of governor snyder's hands even sooner than they did. but governor snyder's administration caused this horrific disaster and poisoned the children of the flint. on the governor's website, his michigan,reinventing getting it right, getting it
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done." it's hard to imagine a more misleading slogan. it also says this. "we will learn from this experience." and so as i said earlier in children,aring, these when we are dead and gone, these children will suffer for what we failed to do. mr. chairman, i have said to you before, we have to be the last line of defense. we have to be it. generations will suffer. we have to do everything in our power to mitigate that. i look forward to hearing and i yield back. rep. chaffetz: we will hold the record open for 5 legislative days to submit a written statement. i will recognize the first panel. i am pleased to welcome the honorable rick snyder, governor of the state of michigan. we have the honorable gina mccarthy, administrator for the epa.
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pursuant to committee roles, if you would both rise and raise your right hand. swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? thank you. let the record reflect that witnesses answered in the affirmative. we normally have a five-minute rule, but you are welcome to time for your verbal comments. your written statement will be part of the record. governor snyder is no recognized. -- is now recognized. gov. snyder: members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about the crisis in flint and the actions we are taking to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. let me be blunt. this was a failure of government at all levels. local, state, and federal officials. we all failed the families of
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flint. this is not about politics, nor partisanship. i will not point fingers or shift blame. there is plenty of that to share. and neither will help people of flint. not a day or night goes by that this tragedy doesn't weigh on my mind. the questions i should have asked, the answers i should have demanded, how i could have prevented this. that's why i am so committed to delivering permanent, long-term solutions in clean safe drinking water that every michigan citizen deserves. today, i'll report what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will do to deliver real results to the families of flint. but before going through the facts, i want to express my profound gratitude for the help and heroism of professor mark edwards, and the president leeann walters--- and flint
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resident leeann walters. they were among the first to sound the alarm about the failures of government in the crisis inflicting the flint community. here are the facts. from the date the city of flint began using the flint river as an interim water supply in 2014 and repeatedly after that, the department of environment of quality assured us that flint's water was safe. it wasn't. a water expert at the federal epa tried to raise the alarm in february 2015, and he was silenced. it was on october 1, 2015, that i learn that our state experts were wrong. once water had dangerous levels of lead, on that day, i took immediate action. first, we quickly reconnected to the detroit water supply to begin sealing the damaged pipes. second, i ordered the immediate
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distributional of water filters and blood level testing in schools and homes to identify those at highest risk so they could receive health care, nutrition, and additional support. third, we deployed $67 to address short-term needs and long-term solutions. ou focusr and our priority is on both short-term health and long-term safety. this includes diagnostic testing, nurse visits and environment assessments in the home to treat any child with high lead levels. this is only the beginning. right now we're in the appropriations process for an additional hundred $65 million to deliver permanent long-term solutions. i urge congress to pass a bipartisan bill for aiding flint immediately so we can further protect the health and safety of residents and families. from identifying every pipe that must he replaced to providing
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long-term medical support, we are working with local leaders and representatives in washington to deliver the assistance our citizens deserve. we are holding those who failed accountable. we are being open with the public about how these failures came about, including releasing my e-mails, my staff e-mails relating to the water crisis. we are in the process of publicly releasing relevant documents from state agencies involved, so the people have an open honest assessment of what happened and what we are doing to fix it. we also began a thorough investigation of what went wrong. we've uncovered systematic failures at the michigan department of environmental quality. the fact is bureaucrats created a culture that values technical competence over common sense, and the result was lead was leeched into the resident's water. that is why i'm committed to a
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complete and comprehensive change in state government that puts public health and safety first. and why i have called for a thorough investigation to the michigan department of health and him and services by the altered -- health and human services by the auditor general. we're taking responsibility and taking action. that is essential here in washington too. inefficient, ineffective, and unaccountable bureaucrats at the epa allow this to continue unnecessarily. i am glad to sit next to the administrator from the epa because all this -- all of us must be held accountable. i do want to thank miguel del toro, a water specialist at the epa who spoke of earlier about the crisis. tragically, his superiors told local leaders in flint to ignore his call for action. the truth is, there are many committees with potentially
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dangerous lead problems. if the epa and deq do not change, and if the dumb and dangerous lead and copper rule is not changed, this tragedy will befall other american cities. professor edwards has been sounding this alarm for years. i look forward to joining with him to address the failure of government. i'm grateful to have been elected to serve the people of michigan. i understand their anger. i am going to make flint and every community in michigan a better place to live. we have a lot to learn and a lot to do. i close with a simple plea. partner with me in fixing this. not just for the people of flint, but for the people all over the country. ranking member cummings is right . the american people -- this is america, and this should never
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have happened. the american people deserve rules than accents, and professionals to enforce them to know that health and safety are urgent matters. i can make sure that happens in michigan. you can make sure it happens for every american. thank you, and i look forward to your questions. rep. chaffetz: thank you governor. i recognize the administrator of the epa, ms. mccarthy. admin mccarthy: good morning mr. chairman, distinguished members of the committee. i want to thank you for the opportunity to testify about epa's response to the drinking water crisis in flint, michigan. i want to start by saying that what happened in flint should never have happened and can never be allowed to happen again. the crisis that we are seeing is a result of a state appointed emergency manager deciding that the city would stop purchasing treated water that it had been successfully relying on for 50 years and instead switched to an untreated source for the
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simple reason that they wanted to save money. the state of michigan approved that decision without requiring corrosion control treatment. without corrosion control, lead leeched from the pipes and fittings and fixtures in homes and businesses, and it leached into the drinking water. these decisions are what resulted in flint residents being exposed to dangerously high levels of lead. drinking the ssafe water act, congress gives states the primary responsibility to enforce drinking water rules for the nations, approximately 152,000 water systems. but epa has oversight authority. typically, epa has strong relationships with our states. we work with and under this act. looking back on flint, from day one, the state provided our regional office with confusing,
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incomplete, and absolutely incorrect information. their interactions with us were in transient, misleading, and contentious. as a result, epa staff had insufficient information to understand the potential scope or the lead problem until more than a year after that water supply switched. while epa did not cause the lead problem, in hindsight, we should not have been so trusting of the state for so long when they provided us with overly simplistic assurances of technical compliance rather than substantive responses to our increasingly growing concerns. although epa regional staff repeatedly asked the michigan department of environmental quality to address the lack of corrosion control, we missed the opportunity late summer to quickly get epa's concerns on
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the radar screen. that i gregret. since october, epa has been providing technical advice to the city. additionally as part of the federal response led by the department of health and human services, in epa response team of scientists, water quality experts, community involvement coordinator's, and support staff have been on the ground every day since late july. the epa team has visited hundreds of homes and collected thousands of samples to assess the city's water system. we are encouraged by these test results. our enhanced efforts with flint will not cease until the system is fully back on track. we've also been engaging flint residents,, visiting places of libraries,, schools, communities to hear and share information. i have taken several concrete steps at agency to address some
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of the systemic issues raised during the crisis. i directed a review of mdeq and its ability to implement the save drinking water act for the very reasons that the governor has also so clearly articulated. i call on epa's inspector general to investigate epa's response to the flint crisis. no we did not cause it, but could we have acted sooner can correct the situation? i issued an epa-wide memo, encouraging staff to raise concerns and for managers to be welcoming of staff questions. too much back and forth went between epa and the state when it should have gone up so that we could have raised the red flag earlier. i also recently sent letters to every governor and every state environmental health commissioner asking them to join epa in taking action to strengthen our city's drinking
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water programs to ensure that they are looking and working where their own communities. adiitionally, we are working on revisions to the lead and cop per rule. that was revised under the prior administration to streamline the monitoring and reporting requirements. we know that it needs to be strengthened. while the contours of this situation are unique, the underlying circumstances of that allow it to happen are really not. as a country, we have a systemic problem of under investing in environmental justice communities. make no mistake, this is an environmental justice community. not only are these underserved populations, more vulnerable to impacts of pollution, but they often lack the tools and toources -- theand the voice -- do something about it. that is what stacks the deck against a city like flint. that is what creates an
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environment where a crisis like this can happen. in many areas across her country, water infrastructure is , and severalated communities are severely underfunded. particularly low income communities. which may have the most difficulty securing funds through rate increases or municipal bonds. this threatens citizen's access to say drinking water. we need to start having a serious conversation with congress and others about how we advance the technologies and investment necessary to keep delivering clean water to american families. i'm personally committed to doing everything possible to make sure a crisis like this never happens. goinhaving met with the familien flint, met with state leaders, looking at where we are disturbing waters, having worked
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hard to make sure that communities have the information that they need to stay safe. you cannot do anything but be personally committed. but we know that no one portion of government can do it alone. none of us can do it alone. we need the cooperation of all our colleagues at every level of government and every branch and beyond. thank you. i look forward to answering your questions. rep. chaffetz: thank you. i recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. walberg. as we start this, i remind members we have votes that have been earlier today. i need everybody to stick to the five minutes so we can get the maximum number of people to participate. these people have pricing schedules as well. -- have pressing schedules as well. i will start by recognizing mr. walberg for 5 minutes. >> i will certainly take that to heart. i want to thank you for the intentional method by which you carry on these investigations and these hearings.
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mr. chairman, you do not have to do it, but you have done it well. i am a proud michigander. this is a problem. but i am proud of michigan. governor snyder, we appreciate you voluntarily coming today. we appreciate you voluntary releasing your emails so they can be part of the record. we appreciate the fact that you are willing to answer tough questions that this committee will offer today and outline the steps you are taking to solve the crisis and help flint recover. because we want flint to recover. it is a great city. it has great workers. i have driven great cars made in flint. i've had the opportunity to look into the eyes of flint citizens who experienced this human made
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tragedy. governor, when did you first sincef the instances -- his of legionnaires disease in flint? gov. snyder: in terms of legionnaires, i did not learn about until 2016. as soon as i became aware of it, we held a press conference the next day. that was clearly a case where michigan department of health and human services should have done more to escalate the issue, to get a visible to the public, and to me. i have documents your today that show your staff receiving information about legionnaires in march 2015. in an e-mail on march 13 of 2015, a senior deq staff member e-mailed another member of your staff, stating that there was "a significant uptick in cases of legionnaires disease in flint." there is also an e-mail to your spokesperson, showing that she
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was aware of the issue. and another e-mail indicated that he wanted to raise the issue with your chief of staff, and there's much more. the information was at the highest levels of your executive office. 10 months before you knew. did you speak with them about it? gov. snyder: no, i don't require -- i don't recall any mention of that to me. i don't remember being part of any of those discussions. walberg: if that is the case, what connection is there between an outbreak of legionnaires and the flint river? gov. snyder: obviously given the change in water source, it is a concern. we are going through the investigation at this point. all parties are cooperating. the federal and state government are working on this issue. we brought in expertise from wayne state university. an outstanding institution in terms of additional researchers.
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i'm happy to share some information with you that we'll get perspective on the number of cases in what we have so far. i have a chart. i would be happy to share that. rep. walberg: i would ask that we can have that submitted for the record. withourep. chaffetz: without objection we will get it to members as soon as we can photocopy it. walberg: i have also asked for an investigation by the inspector general and auditor general by the state of michigan, an independent organization to look at the moment of health and human services with respect to this discussion. this should have been handled better.
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walberg: administrator mccarthy, does the safe drinking water act provide you with authority to act in cases like flint? admin mccarthy: when we have the proper information, yes. rep. walberg: it says upon receipt of information, the initiator can take any action on behalf of human health. you wrote an e-mail to an epa official that appeared last night. you said "the situation in flint could get very big quickly." you didn't act until january 21, 2016. why? admin mccarthy: the action that we were recommending on what was taking was action already happening. it was only until january that i realized that the state was in continuing quickly enough to address the issue. that was very late in the game, sir. rep. chaffetz: the gentleman's
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time has expired. the piece of favor -- piece of p aper the governor has cemented his in the last page of your packets. i will now recognize mr. cartwright for 5 minutes. snyder,wright: governor i would like to ask you some questions. you do admit before this committee that you and your administration failed the people of flint. gov. snyder: i have made that clear in terms of my state of the state address. rep. cartwright: your task force found that the department of environmental quality was "prim arily responsible for the crisis in flint." do you also admit that here today? your task force found that your officials at mdeq did not implement corrosion control, which "led directly to the contamination of the flint water
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system." do you admit that here today? gov. snyder: the lack of corrosion control led to this issue. rep. cartwright: and you admit it was your officials at mdeq that did not implement corrosion control, which led to that? gov. snyder: they did not instruct the city of flint to do conversion controls. rep. cartwright: is that a yes? gov. snyder: they would not do the corrosion controls. that is a city responsibility. but they failed common sense to say they should have. rep. cartwright: do you admit you personally received a letter in 2015 from flint's mayor thanking you to take action and warning "there is nothing more important than flint right now than fixing the water problems." on january 18, 2015, you admit receiving that letter. gov. snyder: i received a letter from the mayor dated that. i took action on items within that letter. rep. cartwright: i am asking
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about generating, 2015. gov. snyder: you shared the letter with me. i can confirm that. rep. cartwright: would you hand him the letter, please? we will ask that this be made part of the record. rep. chaffetz: without objection. 18, cartwright: january 2015, last paragraph on the second page, it's directed to you specifically. he says "there is nothing more important in flint right now than fixing the water problems." do you see that? do you admit getting that letter? gov. snyder: yes. mayor askedght: the you repeatedly to come to flint. you admit you did not show up for more than seven months after he asked you. gov. snyder: i am not familiar, i would have to check my schedule. rep. cartwright: that is what he says. gov. snyder: i don't know if that is correct or not. rep. cartwright: do you admit to
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seeing headline after headline about problems, hair loss, rashes, e. coli, bacteria and sewage, legionnaires disease? did you read any of those stories? gov. snyder: covers meant, i -- congressman, i read a number of those stories. we have to follow-up them and continue to get information from career bureaucrats that the water was safe. rep. cartwright: do you admit more cases of legionnaires aftere were popping up the last five years combined? gov. snyder: yes, that is why i provided a table that shows these cases were at health care facilities. in terms of the numbers, 87 cases-- rep. cartwright: you admit that even after the whole world knew that flint posed unimaginable numbers of lead, you did not clear as to emergency until january 2016. gov. snyder: i took immediate action as soon as i learned there is a lead issue.
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we started doing water testing, blood testing. rep. cartwright: plausible deniability only works when it is plausible. and i am not buying that you do not know about this until october 2015. you were not in a medically induced coma for a year. [laughter] i have had about enough of your false contrition and phony apologies. susan hedman from the epa there's not 1/10 of the responsibility of the state of michigan and your administration, and she resigned. and there you are dripping with guilt, but drawing your paycheck, hiring lawyers at the expense of the people. and doing your dead level best to spread accountability to others and not being accountable. it's not appropriate. pretty soon we will have men who strike their wives, saying "i'm sorry dear, but there were failures at all levels."
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dollars over the fundamental safety of the people do not belong in government. and you need to resign, too, governor snyder. i yield back. rep. chaffetz: the gentleman yields back. mosh.haffetz wewe now recogniz. >> i would like to welcome you governor snyder. thank you for your willingness to appear before this committee. governor, you spoke about the broken culture at many of the agencies and state government. how are you working to change the culture within the agencies, specifically the department of environment equality that were negligent or reckless? gov. snyder: it began by changing leadership. i accepted the resignation of the departed director. this was a department director that had served under 2 prior governors. but we had this issue. it was time to accept his
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resignation. under civil service rules, we terminated the head of the water division. that was the one that made the terrible decisions with their team to say it should be a 2 6 month study. she was a 28 year veteran of the department. we are going to spend time. we are going to change this culture. a bureaucratic culture that focuses on technical compliance and doesn't have a sense of urgency. that should not be serving our citizens. there are many hard-working people that work for the state of michigan. 47,000 of them. i am committing to finding the instances where they have not gotten the idea that we work for the citizens. i will be relentless in following up to make sure that we make the changes necessary that this never happens again. governor, did state employees intentionally withhold information from you? gov. snyder: i don't believe that was the case. we had a report from the office
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of the auditor general that responded to senator and a nick. one of their conclusions ones that they did not find any willful misrepresentation. >> were you doing to make sure that state employees communicate with you? i stood up in front of the entire state of michigan in my state of the state address and said, these people that made his terrible decisions, that showed a clear lack of common sense failed us. but since they work for me, i am responsible for their actions. i take that responsibility. i kick myself every day about what i could have done to do more. i told the people of michigan there is a commitment, a passionate commitment to say we are going to change the culture in these places. i apologize to the people of flint. they deserve that. i understand why they are angry.
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it's terrible what they have to go through. but i made a commitment to fix the problem. i can't tax some damage that has been done. there's a lot we can do to help the people of flint. i'm committed to do that. we are following through and getting that done. i'm going back to flint tomorrow to throw up my sleeves and work on that issue. >> what is the state expected budget surplus, and how much will be spent on helping people of flint? gov. snyder: i presented the budget in february for the state. in terms of surplus, we are going through 2-3 steps. i've asked for a total, including 3 supplementals. total of $233 million to help address issues in flint. covering all areas from the water system and structure to nutrition to health to well-being, to economic development. all these fields to do whatever
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we can possible in terms of improving things in flint. several overall these past our legislature. i asked for hundred $65 million for a rainy day fund. this is not an issue just for flint. let's start putting aside long-term resources. we have a structure problem that is a national problem. let's get lead pipes out of the ground and look at setting the right standards. that is why i called the lead and copper rule dumb and dangerous. i will be proposing legislation. i will push you do everything to put a much more stringent standard. the people of our state deserve better than they are getting today. >> i have a question for administrator mccarthy. if susan hedman had not resigned, would you have fired her? admin mccarthy: that was an issue i did not need to face. susan submitted her resignation,
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knowing that people would question whether that meant she accepted some type of guilt or responsible of the. she fully accepted responsibility for the situation. she resigned. i accepted that resignation. i thought it was the right step for her to take. >> the question remains, would you have fired her? >> i did not have to face that decision, sir. rep. norton: i appreciate this hearing an. i went to flint, michigan. especially since the district of columbia has its own corrosion crisis about 15 years ago. i was impressed with the many federal agencies that were there. i see responsibility on the part of the federal and the state levels. i think this house has found this, and i commend the house for passing a bill from the
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energy and commerce committee must notifye epa residents when water samples show lead levels for the highest 10% of homes above 15 parts per billion. that is if state and local agencies don't do it. this banter between the state and federal agencies is very distressing when you are talking about irreversible lead in the water. but governor snyder, you appointed your own task force. forceears to be a task that you appointed in december 2015. and it says in the state of michigan, courting their words "primary response ability" for the crisis in flint.
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do you accept this conclusion from your own task force, the people that you appointed? gov. snyder: i appreciate you referencing that group.i appointed them in october. i believe-- rep. norton: i have to give you credit. this task force seems to have operated very independently. i am quoting them again. "we believe the primary responsibility for what happened in flint rests with the michigan department of environmental quality. although many individuals and entities at state and local levels contributed to creating and prolonging the problem, the mdeq is the government agency that has responsibility to the in short saint drinking water -- to ensure safe drinking water. it failed that responsibility." gov. snyder: i accepted that report and took immediate action. rep. norton: thank you very
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much. this task force -- here is what is interesting to hear them say. i am quoting them. dismissal,aggressive belittlement, and attempts to discredit those efforts and the individuals involved." do you agree with this finding of your own task force? gov. snyder: i do. those things never should have happened. rep. norton: think you governor. this quote seems to indicate there was an attempt to discredit the work of others who apparently ultimately proved it would be right. again, i'm giving you credit for this task force, but i think this shows that the state has accepted the responsibility. the most serious finding was that the task force found michigan actually caused this
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poisoning. it said "officials did not -- the task force found that the lead in comparable required corrosion control treatment to keep lead from leaching into the water. it was not required as a switch to the flint river." they are saying they found it y." "not necessary and that this failure "le directly to the contaminationd of the flint river water system." it seems to me, governor, that your administration has already taken responsibility for what
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happened, and that your own task force takes that responsibility. it seems to me here today, each and every response should be to echo your own task force. that the responsibly lays with the state of michigan. it knew what to do in time, and it did not do what it knew had to be done. i thank you mr. chairman. rep. chaffetz: i now recognize the gentleman from florida for 5 minutes. >> mr. chairman, members of the committee. more failed in flint. it's a failed city. we have many of them not only michigan, but across the country. since we started these hearings, it is amazing. i talked to staff.
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we got information that probably dozens of communities are facing the same thing. and they are coming forward and saying that they have unsafe drinking water and high levels of lead and their kids are being poisoned. governor, you did take some action and some people have been fired, is that correct? gov. snyder: correct. flintica: i guess the water had several others that you suspended. gov. snyder: correct. rep. mica: you said everyone shares blame, including yourself? gov. snyder: correct. --. mica: what disturbs me first of all, administrator mccarthy, you have the ability to act when you find out things aren't going right in these
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systems. you have the compliance authority under law, don't you? admin mccarthy: yes sir. rep. mica: who was fired or held accountable in epa? was anyone fired? admin mccarthy: no sir. rep. mica: what disturbs me, i thought hedman was in charge. she was underneath you as a regional administrator. admin mccarthy: yes. rep. mica: she was getting vacation time bonuses may 28 -- the regional administrator is getting vacation time bonuses while the kids are getting poisoned. finally resigned herself. you never fired anyoe. you have great people working at epa.
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admin mccarthy: thank you. toro shouldr. del get a congressional gold medal. mrs. walters came to the authorities. we had the mayor in here. she said she met the mayor at the library and he promised to do everything. 3e went to city hall, april and no one would see her. she was put off. to the day of the hearing, the mayor had never talked to her after that. you are pretty experienced. you can read del toro's report. it is incredibly accurate. this is dated in june. and not a damn thing was done january of this year. i went back and asked mrs.
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walters, when did they finally come in? epa administrator said, we acted immediately. they did not act. they act -- they gagged mr. del toro. when did you see the report? gov. snyder: i don't recall the exact date. rep. mica: did you see this report? again, a high school student could take the support and determine that kids were getting poisoned. he went in and tested everything, the pipes in the building. he looked at the lead lines. he looked a -- he detailed all the things we heard, the calendar of failure of flint. violations going back, and you told me you had the authority. did you ever shut these programs
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down or go after them? you did not. admin mccarthy: okay. rep. mica: i heard calls for resignation. i think you should be at the top of this list. they failed at the local level in the state level. we failed at the federal level.who is in charge ? hedman is getting a vacation bonus, the kids get poisoned, and you are still in office. i yield back. admin mccarthy: thanks for the opportunity to answer. welcome.: you're rep. chaffetz: did you have something you wanted to say? admin mccarthy: it would be good if i could. when we found out finally, because mdeq told us on april 24 prior to that that there was no corrosion control treatment, reversing what they had earlier
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told us that they did corrosion control in the system. we had already told mdeq that they had to require the city of flint to move ahead with corrosion control treatment, well in advance of that memo. rep. chaffetz: letter finish. -- let her finish. admin mccarthy: we consistently said the same thing. that is a report on 3 homes in the same area. because of the complexity of lead, we did not and could not have made a concerted judgment whether it was a systemic problem. when we had the information and received it from mdeq, which wasn't until july 21st, we told them we are done talking, we now know it is a systemic problem. you do it or we do it. they said, we will do it. since that point in time, mdeq slow walked everything they needed to do. that precluded us from being
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able to jump into the rescue. that is what happened. if people are worried about whether be silenced del toro, miguel is a zero on this. he remains -- miguel is a hero on this. he remains one of the experts we rely on. mdeq was the one that told everybody outside that he was a rogue employee to discredit him, just as mdeq was doing, as the governor's task force said, trying to discredit anybody who said there was a problem the drinking water. we were strong-armed, misled, kept at arm's length. we could not do our jobs effectively. rep. mica: i would ask that mr. del toro's report in june be included in the record. rep. chaffetz: you just don't get it. you still don't get it.
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>> mr. chairman, i get it. we are trying to make sure that blame is shifted here. it's interesting, for committee that has committed alice in wonderland techniques with management. off with ahead of opm. of with the head of the head the irs. , my friends snyder on the other side of the aisle want to make sure you're headed is securely on your shoulders. do you believe in the philosophy of government that says we ought to push responsibility and power to the lowest level we can, as close to the people as we can? gov. snyder: as a general rule, yes. rep. connolly:--
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the citizens of your state governor snyder: correct. : and yet, six weeks later, you reintroduced legislation, for a new emergency law. is that correct? governor snyder: there was a law that took into account the concerns of the citizens, and was passed by a duly elected legislature for the state of michigan. rep. connelly: so that allowed you to go past the city of flint and place emergency manager instead of the government of governing bodies in the office of the local government from the law. is that correct? governor snyder: you said generally. this was the case where there was failure in terms of city management, i appreciate it -- a manager? ppoint
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governor snyder: yes. >> and then they could not exercise any power unless your campaign manager let them? governor snyder: initially, yes. we conducted a transcribed interview of the last emergency manager appointed, you appointed, darrell ambroise. you appointed, not mitch mccarthy. we asked him if he considered the city council impotence during his tenure. his answer on the record was absolutely. many pages ofw edicts were issued by your appointed emergency managers in this tragic time period, governor? governor snyder: no, but also let me respond -- >> let me show you. i only have five minutes. ladies and gentlemen hold them
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up, please. these are the stacks of edex issued by your emergency managers, not by the city council of flint. do you know how many of those dealt with meaningful steps to protect the citizens of flint from lead of flowing through their broad -- blood? not one. governor snyder: congressman -- >> it is my five minutes, i am sorry. if i had 10, i would give you all the time in the world. this is the failure of a philosophy you advocated. there is no evidence even after you were warned by the mayor of flint they had problems and he begged you to come to flint. you ignored him. we have no evidence of you contacting flint for seven months. seven months. i am glad you are sorry now. i am glad you are taking action
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now. but it is a little bit late for the kids in flint whose health has been compromised. for people whose health and immunity systems were already compromised. for a city in america that is on its knees because of your ecision tomanagers' d save $400 million, and now it is going to cost a lot more to clean up, and the taint and the stain that state government has country in the form of flint will be a long time to erase. point, thet some buck stops at your office, governor. with your department of environmental quality collapse. with your emergency managers who were really of hubris. then you better than the local
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elected officials of flint, and they ignored a low morning side. that is your record. at some point the buck has to stop at your desk. i yield back. rep. chaffetz: i never commenced mr. desjarlais. ask theld respectfully of the straighter mccarthy to consider scrapping the waters of theu.s. rule and declare epa cannot currently handled the issues on its plate. i yield my time to the gentleman from michigan. i think the gentleman from tennessee >> i think the gentleman from tennessee. ,eceived an e-mail from people a director of the epa office of drinking water. the whole point of the e-mail was to share mark edward's documentation of the flint drinking water problems. mr. edward's e-mail, asking the
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epa to immediately take decisive action on this issue to protect the public, did you read the september 25 e-mail that included mark edward's request for action? gina mccarthy: i did. >> dr. edwards is very familiar to this committee and the people of flint. do you know who mark edwards is? gina mccarthy: yes. we have met. ? you met how long have you known about his work on the water quality? gina mccarthy: we actually have a contract with him to do work with us right now. >> do you believe he is an expert on water treatment and corrosion? gina mccarthy: i think he is one of the experts, yes. we have a number of experts. >> the e-mail includes mr. del toro. the key points, the summary at the end of the documenting that there is no corrosion and
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controlled treatments that the people can't afford bottled water. to assist ituing is safe, and they know a child with elevated lead levels already. if you received an e-mail documenting all these problems on september 25, including the fact that children had elevated blood lead levels, why didn't you act until january 21, 2016? gina mccarthy: you are incorrect -- >> we have e-mails, we have records as well. if you continue to not take responsibility, including writing articles about it, dr. edwards is an expert on this issue. gina mccarthy: yes. >> the people of flint understand that. he has been there. you did not even show up until february of this year. i remember to people on the other side of the aisle, this didn't showr of epa up until february.
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dr. edwards said in testimony before this committee that susan edmund, who you want fire, you would not fire, you would not even given answer if you would. response was completely unacceptable and criminal. that is what mr. edwards said. please tell the people of flint city behind you and this committee white mark edwards is wrong. gina mccarthy: mark edwards is a good scientist, and i respect him. if you look at the timeline of when we received that e-mail, you will find that the city and county health advisory about the flint water went out on the same day. you will find that october 1, you will notice they had no drinking of that water without protection. you will find on october 2, the governor put out a 10 point plan. on october 3, the filters were being to be did. i cannot -- there is no switch i can turn on. >> i am hearing nothing of your
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action on that, and you have the law on your side that says if any event of imminent danger or health risk, you have the responsibility to act. gina mccarthy: the damage has been done. >> i am not -- i will give you a chance. you wrote an advertisement in the washington post which stated the epa regional office was also provided with confusing, incomplete, and incorrect information. as a result, the epa staff members were unable to understand the scope of the lead program until -- problem until more than a year after the switch to untreated water. did the epa confirm in early 2015 that flynn's water pipes lacked corrosion control? gina mccarthy: no, i did not know that. the staff were unaware of that. >> they were unaware. gina mccarthy: they were told by mdeq -- >> what about mr. del toro who
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was disciplined? gina mccarthy: he was not. >> yes he was. gina mccarthy: ok. >> that is a matter of record as well. said some of the documents received from epa through as pauillac, they were nearly redacted. here is it. how is this acceptable from an excerpt? gentleman's time is expired, but you maybe answer. gina mccarthy: the report i issued in january was because of continued failure to address the issue. if there is anything i could have done, and switch i could have turn on that would have precluded us, allowed us to go further than was already happening at that time, i would have pulled that switch. what we needed was exactly starting. were relate?
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yes. were the consequences? yes. get mdeq very hard to to do their job and get these actions in place. and you are asking if i received an e-mail on a given date, i did. the actions were moving. there was nothing else i could have ordered that would have made that move faster. january,ue an order in because even after all of this, the order that i issued was questioned by this state, by mdeq, by the state. was that really, legally solid? they continue to drag their feet today. go ahead,etz: governor. >> i am sorry mr. chairman, but you cannot take so much. all i can do is go to the record. i would suggest people look at three e-mails. there is an e-mail going back to
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june 8, 2015 from jennifer crux of the eva is a semi annual call. there is a e-mail onto the way briefing paper with the mdeq talking about the federal lead a copper rule, including flint water. a talk with the mdeq and the epa working together. they were in regular dialogue. they are talking about how to work together. i am ready to get sick. we need urgency, action, and they keep on talking. it is not about fighting. they are just not getting the job done. we messed up in michigan to begin with by doing two studies instead of corrosion control. that is what has caused this trouble. i respected -- i have accepted responsibility for the people that worked for me.
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continuing dialogue to say it was solely us, this could have if othersed sooner had seen it. i should have asked tougher questions and dunmore, but all those things the epa just did not get the information? i just ask you to take the time and go look at those three e-mails, and that will clear the record up. rep. chaffetz: we now recognize the ranking member. rep. cummings: you have represented a department that you were unaware of disaster building until october 2015. i find it hard to believe that a crisis of this attitude completely escaped your attention for so long. it is so clear that your senior staff, people who report directly to you daily, were very aware of what was taking place in flames. your top2, 2014, 1 of advisers wrote an e-mail to your teeth of staff writing -- chief
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of staff saying, if you know there is a problem with the flint water quality since they left the w sve system, which was the emergency manager. i think we should ask the emergency manager to consider coming back to the system in full and in part as a solution to both the quality and now the financial problems the current solution is causing. i see this as an urgent matter to fix, and a quote. did your chief of staff, who i assume reported directly to you, your right hand man, did he tell you these concerns urgently needed to be fixed in october 2014? did he tell you that? governor snyder: i don't recall. i do recall we had issues. we talked about color and odor of the water. there was also concern about e. coli. there were several issues, but none of them related to lead. rep. cummings: but there was a
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problem with the water. did you get the e-mail? governor snyder: i did not get the e-mail. rep. cummings: i remind you you are under oath. governor snyder: not to my knowledge. all, if thes: after gm refuses to -- gm as in general motors, if they refuse to use the water in our planet and our own agencies are warning people not to drink it, the differential between what we now select and what we face with dubya e.g. -- wvz, we look stupid hiding behind some statement. did you talk to him about concerns in february 2015? governor snyder: i can't recall, but we had continuing discussions about water issues. e. coli, and that pta. there was an issue of: --
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chlorine in the water. rep. cummings: although it was rusting away, brand-new, the water was rusting away brand-new parts at gm, he was ok for human consumption? governor snyder: to put in perspective, ranking member cummings, these are red flags i kick myself. i was getting advice -- rep. cummings: i want you to finish. on march 2, 2015, the chief of staff offered the following assessment about flint. it is tougher everyday people to listen to financial issues and water mumbo-jumbo without all they see is problems. if we procrastinate much longer in doing something direct, we will have wheel trouble,". in he talked to you back march. governor snyder: governor
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snyder: i had discussions, i can recall specific ongoing discussions. he was right with race discerns. we took actions with the maximum grant, $2 million earlier in the year to talk about water structure. we also worked on getting filters. rep. cummings: i am running out of time. the next day, he complained about the lack of empathy for the residents. and this is your right hand man, and he specifically said this was your dq director, dan wyatt, i really don't think people are getting the benefit of the doubt. now they are concerned, rightfully so, about the lead level studies they are receiving from the deq samples. these folks are scared and worried about the health impact, and they are basically getting end of quote.s,
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did you talk to your staff about those concerns? governor snyder: i had continuing talks, and we sought advice and parties from your crest not just in one department but also environmental allergy. the water was safe, people in inland services did not see an elevation in blood level levels, and they are wrong. rep. cummings: there are two possibilities. either she knew you about his concerns or did nothing, or he did not tell you and you are in a stingy -- an absentee governor. i yield back. rep. chaffetz: i want to recognize myself for five minutes. governor, you have apologized, correct? governor snyder: correct. rep. chaffetz: either been fired? governor snyder: yes. rep. chaffetz: anyone dismissed or otherwise retired? governor snyder: yes. rep. chaffetz: does the state of
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michigan do something wrong? did the epa do anything wrong? gina mccarthy: i don't think we did everything right, that is the challenge i am facing. rep. chaffetz: the challenge you are facing right now is my question. my question is, did the epa do anything wrong? gina mccarthy: i would hope that we would have been more aggressive. i would hope we would have escalated this issue if we could have done absolutely anything to stand on a rooftop and scream about the challenges we are having. rep. chaffetz: you are just not -- here is the fundamental difference. first of all, we have jurisdiction in congress on the epa. i don't have jurisdiction on the governor. i have jurisdiction to call him up here, and republicans did call him up here, he volunteered to be here. and we are investigating this. this is the third hearing on this topic. this is the fundamental difference. i hope everybody understands this. i see response ability.
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i see people getting fired, i see changes. i see admissions that there was fundamental wrongs that happened in the organization. but when i turned to the epa, has anyone been fired? that is a question. gina mccarthy: no, sir. rep. chaffetz: has anyone been dismissed? gina mccarthy: no, sir. rep. chaffetz: and the epa reaches five administrators there, susan had meant, the date you finally did take decisive action, when you were questioned about that, you said that her act was courageous. gina mccarthy: i did. rep. chaffetz: i'm going to ask you again. did the epa do anything wrong? gina mccarthy: the epa worked very hard. rep. chaffetz: i have another question for you. hold on. -- mark edwards has
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testified here twice. he wants good quality health for , clean and he wants good water. and he happens to know the science behind the water. on those two hearings, did mr. edwards say anything that you think was wrong, or maybe inaccurate? you think mr. edwards is that anything that was wrong or inaccurate in any of those testimonies? gina mccarthy: i don't think he was at all informed about epa. he doesn't know how we are supposed to work in the system. he doesn't understand that the problem itself was a responsibility of the state. oversight was our responsibility. we took that seriously, and we contacted it. does that mean i don't have regrets, because i don't -- rep. chaffetz: that is cheap. we just got regrets. that is cheap. that is cheap. gina mccarthy: you have to look
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at the way the law works. rep. chaffetz: and it failed. you said, if there is any, anything i could do, you had that under the law, and you did not do it. gina mccarthy: no, sir i did not have that under the law. rep. chaffetz: you did. if there is imminent threat, you can pull this wet. you are wrong. gina mccarthy: there are two parts to that. you skipped the second. rep. chaffetz: you need to -- ,ep. chaffetz: you are in those i am asking the question. instead of, ok. when you first arrived on the scene, and it was not until jamie very of the next year that you actually did something. that is the fundamental problem. don't look around like you are mystified. mikell dealt oro showed up in -- miguel del toro showed up in february. gina mccarthy: we took action from that point forward. rep. chaffetz: there are a lot
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of people in this audience from flint. no one believes that you took action. mark edwards from virginia tech, , had the heart opportunity. they have said things like we failed to get epa to take lead blood level seriously. can -- added, effectively condoned cheating on the lead copper rule since 2006. you put out one of the most expensive things i could possibly imagine. he said about you, the epa mccarthy,tor gina absolving any wrongdoing or treating the flint disaster. if you want to do the courageous thing like you said to susan had meant, then you should also resign. nobody is going to believe you have the opportunity, the presence, you have the authority, the backing of the federal government, and you did not act you had the chance. if you are going to do the
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courageous thing, you should also step down. i never recognize the gentlewoman from illinois, this is duckworth. -- mrs. duckworth. >> i think that if she does that, so should the governor. i am deeply troubled by testimony and laws raised by these series of hearings on the water crisis. humanthe kind of suffering that should not happen anywhere let alone the greatest nation on the face of the earth. the failures at every level of government are alarming. i don't think it it is any question, but it is the spider department of the quality that created this crisis in the first place. fromer, as a member illinois and one of the states that fought under the epa region five alongside miss again, i am also troubled by the how the epa also failed in its duty to serve as a last line of defense for the children of flint.
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haswhile the flint crisis gotten the most attention lately, i am deeply concerned with communities all around this country at similar risk areas in chicago, we have one of the bettert, one of the quality water systems in the nation, but we are also learning onto the lead and copper rule testing protocol, our department of water management is conducting this in height risk businesses, and mrs. the high lead levels and potential human exposure. more from the chicago tribune found since 2003, more than half of the sampling sites tested by the chicago management were owned by employees and might not be located in high risk areas. and so, when water systems like flint or chicago elect to use their own employees homes as sampling test sites,
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what safeguards are in place to ensure the results are not corrupted or skewed? gina mccarthy: there are protocols for this, and one of the things that i have done is to send a letter to every governor and agency that has signed on to this across the u.s., explained they can do again and make sure they are following that. we are also looking at how we can fight the lead and copper rule. he clearly needs to be strengthened. i never suggested that the system does not feel or the epa is looking at its own place in this. the office of the attorney general is looking at this in my request to make sure we can get everything with information available to us. one thing i am trying to make clear is, we did not create this problem. the question is, did we run in and try to solve it and work it as quickly as we possibly could? what else could we possibly have done? i have been trying to find an answer to that question in
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anybody who can tell me what else we could have done under the law. i want to hear it or even under common sense. >> let me answer that for you, because i am not in your side on this. i am not on the governor side as well. would you not rather have jumped gina mccarthy: there are two
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tests that congress has given us. congress is very clear in the law and also in the congressional records that they wanted us to keep in our lane and they didn't want us to step on state rights. i had the data which i told you i did not have until july 21, and i had to show that the state was not taking appropriate action. on the 21, they said they would. i had no justification legally, so what we tried to do was get information into the community's hands. we try to tell the public there is a problem here. >> wyoming have a few seconds left. do we need to change the law, change the statute so that you will step forward sooner when you have an epic failure on the part of a governor of a state to that indicates he has hired absolute failure in protecting his citizens in michigan? we ask this picture of the epa as recently as yesterday, and you did not answer. do we need to change the law so
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you can step in sooner? gina mccarthy: it is a very high hartl, but 35 out of 36 years working in this business, it is the first time i have seen a state fail to abide -- >> you are not answering my question. gina mccarthy: most states work collaboratively with me. rep. chaffetz: the gentlewoman's time is expired. vote of two.irst we will recess and reconvene no sooner than 10:45. the committee stands in recess. rep. chaffetz: for those in the room, don't assume you are going to get a seat and back if you leave it. [laughter]
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