Right Hooks

Flint Residents Pin Blame of Lead-Laden Water on EPA

The agency won't get off the hook easily.

Political Editors · Apr. 26, 2016

Despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s insistence to the contrary, more than 500 current and former residents of Flint, Michigan, joined in a class action lawsuit placing blame on the agency for its hand in the lead-tainted water in the city. The suit, filed Monday, seeks $220 million in potential damages from the agency for personal injury and property damage over the EPA’s inaction in Flint. “The EPA heard the alarm bell loud and clear but chose to ignore the profound environmental and public health issues brought to its attention in the early stages of this disaster,” said Michael Pitt, attorney for the plaintiffs. “This agency attitude of ‘public be damned’ amounts to a cruel and unspeakable act of environmental injustice for which damages will have to be paid to the thousands of injured water users.”

In March, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy complained that it was state officials who were giving the EPA the runaround, the ones who were hiding the condition of Flint’s water from the protectors of the environment. It was much more content to place blame on Michigan’s Republican governor. And while mistakes were made, at least one party holds blame for putting bureaucratic incompetence ahead of actually protecting people and the environment. The EPA regulates lead and copper piping. It oversees states’ drinking water programs. The agency won’t get off the hook easily.

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