On January 18, as introduction to his interview of Michigan governor Rick Snyder, the National Journal's Ron Fournier wrote
The slow and possibly deadly poisoning of Flint, a hard-bitten industrial town of nearly 100,000, began in April 2014, when the city switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River to save money. Residents’ concerns were ignored for 19 months until independent tests by Virginia Tech and a local hospital revealed dangerous levels of lead exposure.
Only then did Michigan’s environmental agency admit to violating federal regulations requiring the treatment of Flint’s water to avoid corrosion of the city’s ancient water pipes, a lapse that caused the lead poisoning. The fateful decision to switch Flint’s water source was made by an emergency city manager appointed by Snyder.
In early 2015, months before the lead poisoning was publicly announced, an analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency discovered dangerous levels of lead in Flint’s water. An appointee of President Obama forbade the results from being released to the public.
Presumably, we've now determined who that appointee is, for on Thursday we learned
The Environmental Protection Agency's regional administrator for Flint, Michigan, has resigned, the agency said in a statement Thursday.
"EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman has offered her resignation effective February 1, and 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," the agency said.
In late June, then-Flint Mayor Dayne Walling wrote to Hedman, seeking information about the issue of lead in Flint's drinking water. She essentially shot him down in her response.
"The preliminary draft report should not have been released outside the agency. When the report has been revised and fully vetted by EPA management, the findings and recommendations will be shared with the City and MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) -- and MDEQ will be responsible for following up with the City," Hedman wrote.
She had also fallen under fire for allegedly retaliating against EPA employees involved in investigating sexual harassment cases.
President Obama now has pledged $80 million to the state of Michigan for improving its water-related infrastructure. That is a good start, as is the resignation of the official who apparently kept scientific findings from the public for several months, during which lead exposure to the citizens of Flint (Flint River from Bill Pugliano/Getty Images, below) continued to rise. It is now time for the media to begin to hold accountable Governor Snyder, his appointees, and the GOP-controlled legislature for their role in destroying one of Michigan's cities.