Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder faced an intense line of questioning regarding Flint’s lead-laced water during a hearing with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The hearing, which took place last week, gave politicians a chance to evaluate the details of the Flint water crisis, which has left 8,000 children exposed to lead poisoning, and determine which government and environmental officials will be held responsible, reports NPR.
“Let me be blunt,” Gov. Snyder said at the hearing. “This was a failure of government at all levels. Local, state and federal officials—we all failed the families of Flint.”
During the hearing, various representatives came forward, demanding to know why Gov. Snyder waited for months before addressing the crisis, which has been going on since April 2014 when the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money.
“Governor, plausible deniability only works when it’s plausible, and I’m not buying that you didn’t know about any of this until October 2015,” Rep Matt Cartwright (D-PA) said during the hearing. “You were not in a medically induced coma for a year. And I’m had about enough of your false contrition and phony apologies.”
Both politicians and Flint residents are calling for Gov. Synder to step down and for various Environmental Protection Agency officials to resign. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) accused EPA official Gina McCarthy of ignoring reports that clearly showed the city’s water supply was poisoned.
“Because of the complexity of lead, we did not and could not have made a concerted judgement about whether it was a systemic problem,” McCarthy responded. “We were strong-armed. We were misled. We were kept at arm’s length, [and] we couldn’t do our jobs effectively.”
Multiple Flint families have filed lawsuits agains the city, arguing that their children now face developmental disabilities because they were exposed to poisoned water. Last month, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver unveiled a $55 million effort that will replaced the city’s corroded water pipes. The federal government has also allocated $80 million to help combat the crisis.