CHICAGO (January 13, 2016) – Press reports published today reveal a disappointingly passive response from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address concerns about drinking water in Flint, MI before and since the city was gripped by a lead poisoning crisis, according to attorneys at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Last October, NRDC, the ACLU of Michigan and local groups petitioned the EPA to use its emergency powers to secure safe, lead-free water for the City’s children and families. In December, the Agency responded with a "status update" saying that it intended to hold off on acting on the petition. Also, in November, many of the same groups filed a 60-day notice announcing their intent to sue City and State officials in federal court.
Following is reaction to the EPA’s new statements from NRDC Midwest Director Henry Henderson:
“If this is how the EPA views their powers, the Agency might as well stay out of the Flint crisis because they have clearly been part of the problem. The people of Flint have been let down by every level of government—City, State and Federal—through the sorts of inaction and lack of transparency that are painfully on display in comments from Region 5 Director Susan Hedman.
“It is beyond understanding that the EPA was paralyzed for 9 months while waiting for a legal opinion on their own powers in the midst of a crisis where an entire city was being poisoned.
“Despite all the attention to the plight of Flint, many residents remain concerned about inaction to fix the problems with their water system. The situation today, with water that remains toxic, illustrates why it remains essential for Americans to be able to file citizen suits to protect themselves when government fails them. That is clearly the case in Flint and it is why we noticed our intent to sue. It looks like the federal engagement should come from the courts.”
More information on the 60-day notice of intent to sue can be found at
More on the Flint situation from NRDC’s Switchboard blog at: