Pressure Mounts for Transparency in Flint Water Crisis
LANSING, Mich. - With a federal investigation now under way into the Flint water crisis, pressure is mounting for complete disclosure from the governor's office.
Flint residents were exposed to toxic levels of lead after the city switched its water supply source from Lake Huron to the Flint River more than a year ago. A task force appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder held the Department of Environmental Quality responsible for failing to ensure the safety of drinking water, and the department's director resigned. But Melanie McElroy, executive director with Common Cause Michigan, believes there's a lot more to the story.
"The public deserves to know why Flint's children were poisoned with lead," says McElroy. "And a lot of these people in Flint can't get back the time and health that they've had to waste on this issue but the least they could do is find out how this came about, find out who was behind it."
On Tuesday, Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint, which could lead to federal assistance. Sam Inglot, deputy communications director with Progress Michigan, welcomes the news but says it's too little too late.
"Sadly, a lot of damage has really been done," says Inglot. "We don't really know what the full consequences of over a year of lead in the water is going to do to an entire generation of kids in Flint. Rick Snyder was the last person to say that this was an emergency."
The declaration was made on the same day news came that the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan is investigating the crisis. McElroy hopes the national attention will bring to light who is responsible and help to reform transparency laws in Michigan.
"We are in headlines again for something dangerous and really sad," says McElroy. "And Michigan could be leading on reforms that people actually want to see, one of them is increased transparency and accountability."
The group is among those calling for Snyder to drop his executive privilege and release all documents and correspondence connected to the crisis. The governor's office is protected from the Freedom of Information Act, but a spokesman says Snyder is committed to transparency.