If the EPA "did their job" in Flint, why did their regional administrator just resign?

You may recall that reporters finally caught up with EPA chief Gina McCarthy in DC the other day and asked her about the situation in Flint, Michigan and the dismal (if not criminal) response of her agency. She informed everyone that, “we did our job.” That’s an interesting perspective, particularly in light of the fact that she just accepted the resignation of the Region 5 administrator who sat on reports of toxic water in Flint for months without telling anyone. (The Hill)

The regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief responsible for Michigan is resigning amid charges that she did not do enough to prevent the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis.

Susan Hedman, regional administrator for the EPA’s Chicago-based region 5, submitted her resignation Thursday, effective Feb. 1, the EPA said.

“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has accepted given Susan’s strong interest in ensuring that EPA region 5’s focus remains solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water,” an EPA spokeswoman said late Thursday.

Hedman told the Detroit News last week that her office knew in April 2015 that Flint’s action to switch its water supply could cause increased pipe corrosion and spiked lead levels.

The first question which should come to everyone’s minds is, why was this woman allowed to just resign? Why wasn’t she fired? I understand that sounds like a silly question since nobody at the EPA has been held accountable for anything since McCarthy has been in charge, but surely this is different. It’s true that somebody made the decision to switch the city’s water supply from Detroit to the Flint River and the damage was accelerated by their failure to anticipate the water treatment required to prevent the pipes from rotting out. Those involved with that decision need to be held accountable. But the EPA knew (or strongly suspected) that the people of Flint were drinking what is essentially toxic waste for six months and they said nothing. They suppressed a report which could have gotten safety protocols in motion while they argued internally over petty bureaucratic concerns and allowed the citizens to continue ingesting lead for months on end.

What kind of a human being does that? How was there not a single person inside that EPA regional office who thought to pick up the phone, call a newspaper and tell them that tens of thousands of people might very well be on the path to lead poisoning? Any reporter could go down to Walmart and pick up a kit capable of testing the lead levels in drinking water for under twenty bucks. This is outrageous, and I say that as somebody who has to watch government malfeasance on a daily basis for a living. And yet nobody seems to even be suggesting that Gina McCarthy be held accountable for this.

The EPA is been a hotbed of incompetence, corruption, partisanship, waste and fraud for years now and not a single person is made to stand against the wheel. If people want to hold Governor Rick Snyder accountable for this fiasco, fine. It happened on his watch. But Gina McCarthy’s neck needs to be stretched out on the block right next to his.


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David Strom 3:31 PM on February 02, 2023
David Strom 10:41 AM on February 02, 2023