Skip to main content

tv   Hearing on Flint Michigan Water Contamination  CSPAN  December 28, 2016 8:03pm-8:57pm EST

8:03 pm
you should resign. you should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on and you should be criminally investigated by both the department of justice and the securities and exchange commission. >> we will also look back at a senate hearing with top executives from the cable and satellite industry. they were called to testify about a report on cable and satellite companies overcharging customers for equipment and service. we will show portions of all these hearings tonight. keep in mind that you can always watch them in their entirety anytime at our website, we begin tonight with the flint, michigan water contamination hearing. for more on the issue, we talked to a capitol hill reporter. melissa burke covers congress
8:04 pm
. she is joining us from capitol hill to talk about flint, michigan water. when was the water declared undrinkable and why? 2014,dates back to april when the city, under the direction of some state-appointed emergency managers, switched its water supply to the untreated flint river. afterwards,t, right no one really knew something was wrong. the public didn't find out about the lead in their water until the fall of 2015. that is when advisories started to go out, suggestions that residents start drinking bottled water or get filters, and to they've kids also in bottled water. >> when and how did congress get involved in the flint water issue? >> late 2015, there was a growing chorus. there was this realization that
8:05 pm
something had gone really wrong in flint and there was a lot of questions about what happened, how it happened, how something like this could happen, whose fault it was, whether the government, the state, the city, the fed, who should have prevented this. trying to figure out what they needed to do to make sure something like this didn't happen again. >> there's been a number of hearings. how many hearings did they hold? >> in february and march, they had three hearings with all sorts of players. there was an additional hearing held by the energy and commerce committee under congressman fred upton in april. >> what was the state of michigan asking from the federal government? >> governor snyder, he had at that point submitted a request to president obama for about, i believe $98 million worth of
8:06 pm
assistance, to respond to the crisis, or things like bottled water, filters, fixing flint's damaged water lines and pipes in the city, and he was also supportive of the michigan congressional delegation which of $600ing for upwards million worth of emergency aid from congress to help with infrastructure fixes, helped get those lead pipes out of the ground in flint. >> in a few moments, we will watch the third of the house oversight committee hearings to talk about the water problem. who testifies in this particular hearing and what does congress want to learn? >> the people testifying are going to be the administrator of the environmental protection agency, gina mccarthy, and the michigan governor, rick snyder,
8:07 pm
a republican. members of congress had a lot of questions for them. they wanted to know what went wrong, whose fault it was, why things weren't taking care of earlier, why they didn't listen to experts, why they weren't hearing some of the early warnings from residents complaining about brown and muddy looking water. >> tell us how politics plays into the questioning of these witnesses. >> from the beginning, flint was really -- unfortunately became a blame game. something you will hear in the hearings is, the democrats were really critical of the state of michigan, which is of course led by a republican governor, and run by a republican majority legislature. they wanted to know why the residents weren't listened to,
8:08 pm
why the complaints were dismissed, and why some of the outside experts who tried to sound the alarm early on were dismissed and not listen to earlier on. on the republican side, they really focused on the epa, on administrator mccarthy. they said the epa had botched its oversight role here and they should have stepped in earlier when the state wasn't doing what it should have been doing. of there also critical regulatory framework the epa has, the rules governing levels of lead in drinking water. those haven't been updated in many years and are overdue for revision. >> let's watch. here's part of that hearing from last march, beginning with questions from congressman matt cartwright of pennsylvania. rep. cartwright: thank you, mr. chairman. governor snyder, i would like to ask you some simple questions.
8:09 pm
you are under oath today. you do admit here today before this committee that you and your administration failed the people of flint. clearnyder: i made that -- rep. cartwright: your task force found that your department of environmental quality was primarily responsible for the crisis in flint. do you also admit that today? gov. snyder: the lack of corrosion controls led to this issue. rep. cartwright: you admit that it was your officials that did not implement corrosion control, which led to that. right? gov. snyder: they did not
8:10 pm
instruct the city of flint to do corrosion controls. rep. is that a yes? gov. snyder: they wouldn't be doing the corrosion controls. that is a city responsibility. they failed in what i deemed to be common sense. rep. cartwright: do you admit that you received a letter in january 2015 from flint's mayor, begging you to take action, and warning, there is nothing more important in flint right now than fixing the water problems -- do you admit receiving that letter? gov. snyder: i received a letter from the mayor and i took action on items within the letter. rep. cartwright: i'm asking about january 18, 2015. would you hand him the letter please? ask that this be made part of the record. >> without objection, so ordered. rep. cartridge: from duane
8:11 pm
walling, the mayor. last paragraph on the second page. it is directed to you specifically. he says there is nothing more important in flint than fixing the water problems. do you see that? do you admit getting that letter? gov. snyder: yes. rep. cartwright: the mayor asked you to come to flint. you admit you didn't show up for more than seven months after he asked you. gov. snyder: i would have to check my schedule. rep. cartwright: that is what he says. you didn't go to flint until october 2015. you don't know. you admit to seeing headline after headline about health problems, hair loss, rashes, e. coli, bacteria, sewage, legionnaires disease. did you read any of those stories? gov. snyder: i read a number of those stories. what i would tell you is, we would follow up on them and continue to get reaffirmation
8:12 pm
from career bureaucrats that the water was safe. admitartwright: do you that more cases of legionnaires disease were reported since the switch to flint river that all the cases in the last five years or more combined? gov. snyder: yes, and that is why i provided a table that shows a number of these cases were at health care facilities. there were 87 cases -- rep. cartwright: you admit that even after the whole world knew that flint residents were exposed to unimaginable levels of lead, you did not declare a state of emergency until january 2016. gov. snyder: i took immediate action. we started issuing filters to people. rep. cartwright: plausible deniability only works when it is plausible. i'm not buying that you didn't know about any of this until october 2015. you were not in a medically induced coma for a year.
8:13 pm
i've had 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, drawing your paycheck, hiring lawyers at the expense of the people, and doing your best to spread accountability to others, and not being accountable. it is not appropriate. pretty soon, we will have men who strike their wives saying, i'm sorry, but there were failures at all levels. put dollars over the fundamental safety of the people do not belong in government. you need to resign, governor snyder. i yield back. >> i now recognize the gentleman from michigan for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you administrator mccarthy.
8:14 pm
welcome, governor snyder. thank you for your willingness to appear before this committee. you spoke about the broken culture at many agencies in state government. how are you working to change the culture within the agencies, specifically the michigan department of environmental quality, that were negligent or reckless and failed the citizens of flint? i accepted the resignation of the department director. this was a director that served under two prior governors with distinction. but we had this issue. it was time to accept his resignation. essentially, we terminated the head of the water division. that was the one that made the terrible decisions to say it should be two six-month studies instead of doing corrosion control. she was a veteran of the department. we're going to change this
8:15 pm
culture. thatureaucratic cultural focuses on technical compliance and doesn't have a sense of urgency should not be serving our citizens. there are many hard-working people that work for the state of michigan. i am committed to finding the instances where these people haven't gotten the idea that we work for the citizens. i'm going to be relentless in following up to make sure we make the changes necessary, so this never happens again. 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 of auditor general that responded to the senator. was, itheir conclusions don't believe they found any willful misrepresentation. rep. amash: what are you doing to make sure state employees communicate with you on issues
8:16 pm
regarding the people of flint? gov. snyder: i stood up in front of the people of michigan and said, these people that made these 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 and i kick myself every day about what i could have done to do more. but i told the people of michigan that there is a passionate commitment to say, we are going to change the culture in these places. i apologized to the people of flint. i understand why they are angry. it is terrible what they are having to go through. but i made a commitment to fix the problem. i can't take some damage that has been done, but there's a lot we can do to help the people of flint, and i'm committed to do that. we are following through on getting that done. i'm going back to flint tomorrow
8:17 pm
to roll up my sleeves and keep working that issue. rep. amash: what is the state's expected budget surplus and how much will be spent on helping the people of flint? gov. snyder: in terms of surplus, where going through two or three steps. i've asked for a total, including two or three supplementals that have already been passed, but a total of $232 million to help address issues in flint, covering all areas, from the water system, infrastructure, nutrition, well-being, economic development, all these fields, to do whatever we can in terms of improving things in flint. addition, i asked for $165 million to go into a state infrastructure fund to say, this is not an issue just for flint, but let's start putting aside the long-term resources to say,
8:18 pm
we have a problem in the state of michigan. let's get these lead pipes out of the ground. let's look at setting the right standards. in michigan, i'm making a commitment. i will be proposing legislation. i will be pushing for a much more stringent standard. the people deserve better than they are getting today. rep. amash: i have a question for administrator mccarthy. if susan hedman had not resigned, would you have fired her? ms. mccarthy: that was an issue i didn't need to face. susan took the choice to submit her resignation. knowing that people would question whether that meant she accepted some type of guilt or responsibility, she fully accepted responsibility for the situation and resigned. i thought it was the right step for her to take. rep. amash: the question remains, would you have fired her? ms. mccarthy: i didn't have to face that decision.
8:19 pm
>> the gentleman's time is expired. i now recognize the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, members of the morettee, i think a lot .ailed in flint than the water it is a failed city. we have many of them, not only in michigan, but across the country. since we started these hearings, i've talked to staff, and we've gotten information that probably dozens of communities are facing the same thing and they are coming forward and saying they have unsafe drinking water and high levels of lead and their kids are being poisoned. governor, you did take some action. some people have been fired. is that correct?
8:20 pm
gov. snyder: correct. rep. mica: i guess the flint water head, several others, and you suspended other people? gov. snyder: correct. rep. mica: and you said everyone shares some blame, including yourself. gov. snyder: correct. is, mica: what disturbs me first of all, administrator mccarthy, you had the ability to act when you find out that things aren't going right in these systems. compliancee authority under law, don't you? ms. mccarthy: yes. rep. mica: and who was fired or held accountable in epa? ms. mccarthy: you have to look at -- rep. mica: was anyone fired? ms. mccarthy: no. rep. mica: i checked to see, like hedman, she was underneath
8:21 pm
you as a regional administrator. she was getting vacation time bonuses, got the last one may 28, while the regional administrator is getting vacation time bonuses, while the kids are getting poisoned. resigned herself. you never fired anyone. you have great people working in epa. mr. del toro should get a congressional gold medal. the whistle.blew she came to the local authorities. we had the mayor in here. 2015,ld me in march of she met the mayor at the library do he promised to everything. she went to city hall at the beginning of april and no one would see her. she was put off.
8:22 pm
the day of the hearing the other day, the mayor never talked to her after that. this -- 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 until january of this year. and i went back and asked mrs. walters, when did they finally come in? , your epaand others administrator from the district, said, we acted immediately. they didn't act. they gagged mr. del toro. did you see this report? when did you see the report? ms. mccarthy: i don't recall the exact day. gov. snyder: last summer? did
8:23 pm
you see this report? a high school student could take this report and determine that kids were getting poisoned. he confirmed it. he tested everything. he looked at the lead lines. he did a thorough examination. then he detailed all the things we've heard about this, this calendar of failure of flint, the legionella, violations going back, and you told me you have the authority. did you ever shut these programs down or go after them? ms. mccarthy: we did -- rep. mica: you did not. no one acted. i heard calls for resignation. i think you should be at the top of the list. -- they failed at the local level. they failed at the state level. we failed at the federal level. who is in charge?
8:24 pm
the district had gets a vacation bonus. the kids get lead poisoning. and you are still in office. i yield back. ms. mccarthy: thanks for the opportunity to answer. >> did you have something you wanted to say? ms. mccarthy: it would be good if i could. i think it is important to know that when we found out, finally, because the mdeq told us on april 24 prior to that that there was no corrosion control treatment, reversing what they had earlier told us, that they did corrosion control in the system, that we had already told mdeq that they had to require the city of flint to move ahead with corrosion control treatment. >> let her finish. ms. mccarthy: thank you. we consistently said the same thing. that is a report on three homes
8:25 pm
in the same area. because of the complexity of lead, we did not and could not have made a concerted judgment about whether it was a systemic problem. when we had the information, ,hen we received it from mdeq which wasn't until july 21, we told them, we are done talking. we now know it is a systemic problem. you do it or we will 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 able to rescue. that is what happened. if people are worried about whether we silenced mcgill del l is a hero in this. he is one of our experts. wassimple fact is that mdeq the one who told everybody outside that he was a rogue employee to do credit him -- to
8:26 pm
discredit him, just as the mdeq was trying to discredit anybody who said there was a problem with their drinking water. we were strong-armed. we were misled. we were kept at arms length. we couldn't do our jobs effectively. rep. mica: mr. chairman, i just had that mr. del toro's report be included in the record. >> without objection, so ordered. well, you just don't get it. you still don't get it. i now recognize the gentleman from virginia. >> mr. chairman, thank you. i get it. we're trying to make sure the blame is shifted here. interesting, for a committee that has practiced alice in wonderland techniques with management, off with your head, so when there's a problem, off with the head, off with the head of the cio, off with the head of the head of the irs, off with
8:27 pm
the head of lois lerner -- but governor snyder apparently, my friends on the other side of the aisle want to make sure your head is on your shoulders. governor snyder, 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: so in november 2012, the citizens of your state rejected the emergency manager law you abdicated in a referendum. is that correct? gov. snyder: correct. rep. connolly: and yet six weeks later, you reintroduced legislation that was approved by the republican-controlled legislature for a new emergency manager law. is that correct? gov. snyder: there was a law that took into account the concerns of the citizens and it
8:28 pm
was passed by the elected legislature that represents the people of michigan. rep. connolly: that law allowed you to bypass the local governance of the city of flint and appoint an emergency manager to act for and in the place of the government, of the governing body, and the office of chief administrator of the local government. is that correct? gov. snyder: you said, generally. this is a case where there was failure in terms of city management. rep. connolly: i'm just asking, did you appoint an emergency manager pursuant to that law? gov. snyder: yes. rep. connolly: and that meant the mayor and city council could not exercise any powers unless your emergency manager let them, correct? gov. snyder: initially, yes. rep. connolly: last week, our staff traveled to flint and conducted a transcribed interview of the last emergency manager you appointed, gerald ambrose. by the way, you appointed, not
8:29 pm
ms. mccarthy. we asked him if he considered the city council impotent during his tenure. his answer, on the record, was, absolutely. know how many pages of edicts were issued by your emergency managers in this tragic time period? gov. snyder: no, but let me respond to your comment about ambrose. rep. connolly: let me show you. i've only got five minutes. ladies and gentlemen, these are issued by of edicts your emergency managers, not by the city council of flint. do you know how many of those 8000 pages dealt with meaningful steps to protect the citizens of flint from lead flowing through their pipes? gov. snyder: no. rep. connolly: not one.
8:30 pm
not one. wait a minute. wait a minute, governor. 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 are traveling to flint for seven months. seven months. i am glad you are sorry now. i am glad you are taking action 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 emergency managers' decision to save $400 million, and now it is
8:31 pm
going to cost a lot more to clean up. and the taint and the stain that state government has put on this country in the form of flint will be a long time to erase. you know, at some point, the buck stops at your office, governor. with your department of environmental quality collapse. with your emergency managers who were guilty of hubris. they knew better than the local elected officials of flint, and they ignored the warning signs. that is your record. at some point the buck has to stop at your desk. i yield back. >> your time has expired. rep. chaffetz: i now recognize mr. desjarlais. rep. desjarlais: i would respectfully ask administrator mccarthy to consider scrapping the waters of the u.s. rule and
8:32 pm
-- it is clear the epa cannot currently handle the issues on its plate. i yield my time to the gentleman from michigan. i thank the gentleman from tennessee received 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 edwards' documentation of the flint drinking water problems. mr. edwards' e-mail, asking the epa to immediately take decisive action on this issue to protect the public. did you read the september 25 email that included mark edwards' request for action? gina mccarthy: i did. rep. desjarlais: 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. rep. desjarlais: you met?
8:33 pm
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. rep. desjarlais: do you believe he is an expert on water treatment and corrosion? gina mccarthy: i think he is one of the experts, yes. i would technology that epa has a number of experts. rep. desjarlais: the edwards email includes mr. del toro. the edwards email has a key points, the summary at the end of the documenting that there is no corrosion and controlled treatments. that the people cannot afford istled water, that mdeq continuing to insist the water is safe and they know a child , with elevated lead levels already. if you received an email 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?
8:34 pm
gina mccarthy: you are incorrect -- we have emails: 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. rep. desjarlais: the people of flint understand that. he has been there. you did not even show up until february of this year. i remind the members on the other side of the aisle, the governor has been there many days. this administrator of epa didn't show up until february. dr. edwards said in testimony before this committee that susan edmund, who you will not fire, you would not fire, you would not even give an answer if you would, that edmund's response was completely unacceptable and criminal. that is what mr. edwards said. please tell the people of flint city behind you and this committee why mark edwards is wrong. gina mccarthy: mark edwards is a good scientist, and i respect him.
8:35 pm
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, they were noticed to have 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 distributed. i cannot -- there is no switch i can turn on. rep. desjarlais: i am hearing nothing of your action on that, and you have the law on your side that says in any, any event of imminent danger or health risk you have the responsibility , to act. you wrote an op-ed. excuse me. i am not -- i will give you a chance. you wrote an op-ed in the washington post which stated the epa regional office was also provided with confusing, incomplete, and incorrect information.
8:36 pm
ms. mccarthy: yes. rep. desjarlais: as a result, the epa staff members were unable to understand the scope of the lead problem until more than a year after the switch to untreated water. did the epa confirm in early 2015 that flint's water pipes lacked corrosion control? gina mccarthy: no, i did not know that. the staff were unaware of that. rep. desjarlais: they were unaware of that? gina mccarthy: they were told by mdeq -- rep. desjarlais: what about mr. del toro who was disciplined? gina mccarthy: he was not. rep. desjarlais: yes he was. gina mccarthy: ok. rep. desjarlais: that is a matter of record as well. gina mccarthy: i am sorry, that is not. rep. desjarlais: dr. edward said some of the documents received epa, they were 90% redacted. years, how waited 10 is this acceptable from an exit
8:37 pm
-- expert? rep. chaffetz: 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 we late in getting it done? yes. were there consequences? absolutely. our regional administrator worked very hard to get mdeq to do their job and get these actions in place. so when you ask if i received an a mail on a given date, i did. theretions were moving, was nothing else they could have order to make the move faster. i did issue an order in january, because even after all of this,
8:38 pm
the order that i issued was questioned by this state, by mdeq, by the state. was that really, legally solid? up until today they continue to drag their feet. rep. chaffetz: go ahead, governor. governor snyder: i am sorry mr. chairman, you can only take so much at some all i can do is go point. to the record. what i would suggest is that people look at three emails. there is an email going back to june 8, 2015 from jennifer crux a agenda from michigan semiannual call. from as an email july 20 5, 2015, briefing paper with the mdeq talking about the federal lead and copper role, including flint water. strategic plant
8:39 pm
with the mdeq and the epa working together. they were in regular dialogue. how tore talking about do things together. when i read these things i am ready to get sick. we needed urgency and action and they just 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 fundamentally caused this problem. i have accepted responsibility for the people that worked for me. but it is something different to have this continuing dialogue to say it was solely us, this could have been stopped sooner if other people could have also spoken up. i kick myself that our people should have spoken up, i should have asked tougher questions, i should have done more. 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 emails and that will clear the , record up. rep. chaffetz: we now recognize the ranking member.
8:40 pm
rep. cummings: you have represented a department that you were unaware of disaster building and flint until october 2015. i find it hard to believe that a crisis of this magnitude completely escaped your attention for so long. your seniorthat staff, people that report directly to you daily, where very aware of what was taking place in flint. 12, 2014, 1 of your top advisers wrote an email to your chief of staff saying, as you know, there have been problems with the flint water quality since they left the wsve system, which was a decision by the emergency manager there. i think we should ask the emergency manager to consider coming back to the detroit system in full or in part as an interim solution to both the quality and other financial problems the current solution is
8:41 pm
causing. i see this as an urgent matter to fix,". governor 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 recall during that time period we had issues. we discussed about the 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 problem with the water. did you get the email? gov. snyder: i did not get that email. rep. cummings: i remind you you are under oath. rep. cummings: to my knowledge i did not get that email. rep. cummings: after all, if the dm -- gm as in general motors, if they refuse to use the water in their plant and our own
8:42 pm
agencies are warning people not to drink it, the differential between what we now select and what we face with -- is now significant. we look stupid hiding behind some financial statement. did you talk to him about concerns in february 2015? governor snyder: i can't recall, but we had continuing discussions but we had continuing dialogue about water issues, some were resolved on e. coli, and that pta. the gm issue was a matter of chloride in the water. it was acceptable according to our experts, for human consumption. rep. cummings: although it was rusting away, brand-new, the water was rusting away brand-new parts at gm, but it was ok for human consumption? i do not think that was his testimony? memberyder: ranking cummings, these are red flags i kick myself. i was getting advice --
8:43 pm
rep. cummings: i want you to finish. on march 2, 2015, the chief of staff offered the following assessment about flint. quote, it is tough for everyday people to listen about financial mumbo-jumboater when all they see is problems. if we procrastinate much longer in doing something direct, we will have real trouble. and of quote. did your chief of staff come i your right hand man, talk to you back in march? i cannot recall a specific discussion in march, we had ongoing discussions. he wasn't right about concerns. we took actions with the maximum grant, $2 million earlier in the year to help flint with water infrastructure. we also worked on getting filters. rep. cummings: i am running out of time. and i want to be obedient to the time restraints. the next day, he complained about the lack of empathy for the residents.
8:44 pm
again, this is your right hand man. and he specifically said, 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 blown off by us, end of quote. governor did you talk to your , staff about those concerns? governor snyder: i had continuing dialogues with my chief of staff and he went out and saw that advice or expertise , from career bureaucrats not just in one department but this environment of -- epa. the department of health and human services said they could see an elevation in blood it lead a level than they are wrong. rep. cummings: there are two possibilities.
8:45 pm
either your chief of staff told you nothing about these concerns and did nothing, or he did not -- or he did tell you and you are 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: has anyone been fired? governor snyder: yes. rep. chaffetz: anyone dismissed or otherwise retired? governor snyder: yes. rep. chaffetz: did the state of michigan do something wrong? administrator mccarthy 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
8:46 pm
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 responsibility. 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.
8:47 pm
rep. chaffetz: when the epa administrator there, susan, the date you finally did take decisive action, when you were questioned about that, you said that her active stepping down 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. let me make one thing -- rep. chaffetz: no, i have another question for you. hold on. did the -- mark edwards has testified here twice. he does not have a dog in this fight other than he wants good quality health for people, and he wants good, clean 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
8:48 pm
testimonies? gina mccarthy: i don't think he was at all informed about what epa did. 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 conducted 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 at the way the law works. rep. chaffetz: and it failed. you failed. you said, quote, if there is any, anything i could do, you rep. chaffetz: and it failed.--d , 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 that switch. you finally did it in you are january. wrong. gina mccarthy: there are two
8:49 pm
parts to that. you skipped the second. you need to have information to determine -- rep. chaffetz: why do we need an epa? i am asking the question. february is when you first arrived on the scene and it was not until january of the next year they you actually did something. that is the fundamental problem. don't look around like you are mystified. miguel del toro showed up in that is what happened. february. you did not take action and you could have pulled that switch. gina mccarthy: we took action from that point forward. rep. chaffetz: there are a lot of people in this audience from flint. no one believes that you took action. you have those levers there. mark edwards from virginia tech, bless his heart, had the opportunity. they have said things like we failed to get epa to take lead in the water risks seriously. another quote of his. and this is possible because the epa has effectively condoned cheating on the lead copper rule since 2006.
8:50 pm
he read your op-ed that is one of the most offensive things like a possibly imagine. and he said about you the epa , administrator gina mccarthy, effectively absorbs the epa of any wrongdoing or treating the flint disaster. if you want to do the courageous thing you said that susan did, then you should also resign. no one will believe you. you have the opportunity, the presence, you have the authority, the backing of the federal government, and you did not act when you have the chance. if you are going to do the courageous thing, you should also step down. >> that was a 40 minutes of the three and a half hour oversight committee. detroit news back with us again to talk about what has taken place since the hearing. has the water situation in flint improved? >> there are some recent tests that are astonishing that show
8:51 pm
some improvement in the water. but the advisories we mentioned stillr about folks needing to use filters on their tap and drink bottled water, those are still in place. the hearing that congress held, does that lead to any specific legislation? >> yes, there are two things i would mention. one is on the policy side. congress clarify that for the in cases like this in the future, when the epa learns about lead contamination the stateg water and agency responsible for notifying the public has not done so, the epa does have the authority to step in and notify the public itself, which it did not do in this circumstance. is, ther change approved in december $170 million in funding. $100 million of that will go in
8:52 pm
grants to flint to help them their damaged water lines and pipes in the city. to get those out of the ground so water can start flowing. >> that bill you just referenced on december 8, the water project bill, did come to the house floor. it included money for flint, as you mentioned. here is a representative, who flint, michigan, making his last pitch. people, city of 100,000 they still cannot drink their water. this is not a question of access to water. the water flowing through the pipes in flint is poisoned -- has poisoned that city. 100,000 people. 9000 children under the age of six, affected permanently by high levels of lead delivered to them from their municipal water
8:53 pm
system caused by careless, fellas decisions based on an obsession with austerity by the state government. and then they were told the water was safe to drink when that same state government knew it was not. look, we know where we stand. no bill is perfect, this bill is far from perfect. many of the provisions in this legislation, i disagree with. but i have been fighting for my hometown and have been told to wait and wait and wait. and the people of my community can wait no longer. drinking water is a basic human right. and that should be a human right exercise by people everywhere, including the people of my hometown of flint. every day that passes, every week that passes, every month passes, that flint to does
8:54 pm
not get the release -- release -- relief they so passes, that s not get the desire, the gets mored, the city poor and incapable of moving forward, that has to stop and it has to stop right now. it has to stop before this congress adjourns. we cannot count on the next congress to get this done. >> that was congressman dan kildee, whose districts include a flint, michigan. thatof a larger water bill congress approved and the president signed into law on december 16. joining us again. a few days after the bill was approved, the chairman of the house oversight committee, jason z, closes -- chaffet down the investigation into flint. why? >> he summarized his findings. flint, the situation in
8:55 pm
was failures at all levels of government. ridiculously he singled out the state of michigan, the department of environmental quality. were serious problems there in terms of misleading the epa. he said there have been significant problems with the epa, dragging their feet and not acting for seven months or issuing an emergency order in january of this year, 2016. epalso really came down on for not having updated its lead and copper rule, which has not been revised for a number of years. >> so the congressional investigation is over for now. does that mean water problems in flint are fixed? not, no.unately residents continue to drink bottled water, use filters on her tap. it will take many years for them pipes outget the lead
8:56 pm
of the ground. it is a monumental task. >> what is the late -- latest news out of michigan on this issue? >> there was an ongoing investigation at the attorney general's office which has resulted in criminal charges against 13 government employees, including four that were just announced this week. two of those individuals were former emergency managers of the city who had been appointed by governor snyder. atyou can read melissa burke if you would like to watch the full three and a half hour hearing on the water problems in flint, michigan, you can go to our website, >> back in august there were headlines about the epipen. kids with ann allergic


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on