The EPA Knew Of Lead Contamination 7 Months Prior To Flint Crisis

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Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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Just as the United States is recovering from the hangover of the third Presidential debate, the next “stiff one” from the boozy perception on reality that large bureaucracies perpetuate has just hit all of us in the face.

Per a report from the independent Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency should have issued an initial emergency order in Flint, Michigan seven months before the water crisis engulfed the town and its population.

The internal watchdog probed the incident in an attempt to determine whether or not the agency possessed the power to issue a safety warning. In fact, per the report, under the authority Section 1431 of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA possessed the authority to supersede the actions of state entities if such actions are deemed inert.

Regardless, though the executive supremacy overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency is questionable and ultimately unconstitutional in the grander scheme of things. But, if the EPA, and its Region 5 administration, was in a position to issue a warning seven months prior to the lead-contamination, then, by all means, they should have done it. It would have saved taxpayers a lot more money.

FEMA was mobilized. The costs of resolving were projected to cost $300 billion. Obama committed $80 million in aid. Economic recovery sources also have costed millions.

“EPA Region 5 had sufficient information to issue an emergency order to Flint as early as June 2015, but did not,” the report indicates, “While events were complicated, given what we know about the consequences of the Flint drinking water contamination, it is clear that EPA intervention was delayed. These situations should generate a greater sense of urgency. The EPA must be better prepared and able to timely intercede in public health emergencies like that which occurred in Flint.”

The findings of the Inspector General need to serve as an example to the sentiment that the EPA is not being properly utilized and should, in turn, be shuttered by Congressional authorities.

The EPA has had nothing but embarrassments over the past several years, with this OIG report serving as the crowning achievement of bureaucratic mediocrity. In their acclaimed report from 1992 on free-market environmentalism, the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) states that, “Like private individuals, the government has trouble knowing the source and effect of pollutants. Unfortunately, it has therefore tended to adopt standards that do not demand solid evidence connecting emissions with harm.”

The solution still rests in the private sector. Unlike the EPA, its advocates, and Hillary Clinton, they view that more government oversight is the solution but it is not. As Reason.com’s “Hit and Run” blog pointed out, you cannot blame corporations for the water contamination. In fact, no private entities were responsible for providing water to Flint and the companies even went out and provided help to the affected citizens.

“Corporations did not poison Flint, but if they had, they would have been sued,” according to Reason.com.

The blame, in the words of the report on the incident from the Michigan state legislature, “Federal, state, and local workers failed to look past technicalities in order to protect and maintain the public health in Flint. In sum, government has failed the people of Flint and, by extension, all Michiganders,” and in effect the American people.