US lawmakers have urged the resignations of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy for failing to quickly resolve the contaminated drinking water crisis in the city of Flint.
Snyder, an elected official, and McCarthy, a presidential appointee, sat side by side before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee as lawmakers from both parties grilled them on their response to the crisis, which has turned into a full-scale health emergency.
It also has led to several lawsuits in state and federal courts, and federal and state investigations.
Snyder, a Republican, was criticized by Democratic lawmakers, who suggested that cost cutting by state officials came at the expense of public health.
Republicans on the committee placed much of the blame on McCarthy and the EPA, which many party members want to eliminate because they feel it is too powerful.
“You don’t get it, You still don’t get it. You just don’t get it,” Committee chair Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, told McCarthy as he criticized her failure to accept blame for the crisis.
Snyder did not escape unscathed. “There is no doubt in my mind that if a corporate CEO did what Governor Snyder’s administration has done, he would be hauled up on criminal charges,” said Elijah Cummings, the committee’s top Democrat from Maryland.
“The board of directors would throw him out. And the shareholders would revolt,” Cummings said.
Snyder has said he has no plans to resign despite efforts in his state of Michigan and nationally to remove him. US President Barack Obama has said he has full confidence in McCarthy and the EPA.
Under the direction of a state-appointed emergency manager, Flint, a mostly African-American city of 100,000 northwest of Detroit, switched water supplies to the Flint River from Detroit’s water system in 2014, to save money.
The corrosive river water leached lead from the city’s water pipes. Lead is toxic and can damage the nervous system. Blood samples taken from children in Flint contained high levels of lead.
The city switched back to the Detroit water system last October.