Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, under fire for his handling of the lead-poisoning crisis in Flint, has offered two main defenses: First, he acted as soon as he became aware of the problem. And second, much of the blame for the crisis rests not with him and the state government, but with either local authorities or the U.S. EPA, which he says failed to catch the contamination.
Now both of Snyder’s defenses have taken a hard blow from the panel he himself appointed to investigate the crisis.
What Did the Governor Know About Flint's Water, and When Did He Know It?
The task force the Republican governor appointed delivered its report on Wednesday, a scathing 116-page chronicle
of how residents of the state’s seventh-largest city ended up with high levels of lead in their drinking water—as well as contamination by carcinogenic compounds and an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease. “The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice,” the report declares at the outset.
Taken as a whole, the report places the majority of blame on the state government and its executive branch. In particular, the report blames Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and emergency managers appointed to run Flint by the governor as the primary culprits in the disaster. It notes that Flint was not under the control of elected officials at the time, and confirms
it was the city’s emergency manager who made the decision to switch Flint’s water supply. (For why that switch occurred, go here
.) And it takes Snyder to task, noting that ultimate responsibility for Michigan’s executive branch rests with him.