EPA Chief: We "did our job" in the Flint water disaster

We previously discussed the fact that the hilariously named Environmental Protection Agency knew about the toxic levels of lead in Flint, Michigan’s water supply months before they let anyone know about it and the uproar that followed. At the time the news broke, the EPA didn’t have any comment for the press, but with a bit more time to gather her thoughts, Gina McCarthy has weighed in on the subject. What went wrong at the EPA? Why… nothing, of course! (Daily Caller)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief told reporters the agency “did its job” when asked how the Obama administration handled the ongoing water crisis in the city of Flint, Mich.

“EPA did its job but clearly the outcome was not what anyone would have wanted,” Gina McCarthy told reporters while at an event at a D.C. soup kitchen showing how to reduce food waste.

McCarthy’s remarks come after news that agency officials knew there was lead in Flint’s water at least six months before state regulators admitted in October to using the wrong standards for keeping lead pollution out of drinking water.

“So we’re going to work with the state, we’re going to work with Flint,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to take care of the problem. We know Flint is a situation that never should have happened.”

So if the EPA “did its job” in Flint, is it finally time for somebody to ask Ms. McCarthy precisely what she thinks the job of the EPA actually is? We’re about to see some of the most acrobatic dancing around a subject ever seen in Washington, DC without a doubt. With their chief admitting that Flint is a situation that never should have happened and the agency had information in its hands which could have cut the problem off at the pass shortly after it was discovered, how on Earth does that translate into doing your job?

Their Region 5 Administrator, Susan Hedman, told the Detroit News that she had been “seeking a legal opinion” on whether or not the EPA could force action for most of the spring and summer but she never received a response from her bosses until November. Even if we’re to accept the premise that the EPA couldn’t force any action, if you know that there are toxic levels of lead in the water, wouldn’t you at least tell somebody? You don’t need a court order to pick up a phone and call the newspapers and say, “Hey. The water here is poisonous. You might want to clue in the public to get some bottled water.”

This also brings us back to the question of accountability. I agreed yesterday that the Governor may not have known the specifics of the situation until recently, but since he’s the captain of the ship he needs to take responsibility. But what about the EPA’s role in all of this? You’ll note that the reporters asked McCarthy specifically how the Obama administration handled the ongoing water crisis. If the Governor of Michigan is responsible for the failures of the state Department of Environmental Quality in this matter, wouldn’t Barack Obama be equally responsible for the EPA spiking the story for six months and allowing everyone to build up toxic lead levels in their blood?

What’s good for the goose, as they say. And in this case, if justifiably angry residents want the Governor to answer for these charges, then surely they must be ready to lay the same amount of blame at the door of the White House.


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