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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  March 15, 2016 11:00am-1:01pm EDT

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taken action, according to law and according to humans d decen. >> i don't know the law, but as a human being, she should have taken action immediately. >> in 2004, you told to disregard mr. del toro's preliminary memo that found high levels of lead in flint's water supply. why did it take another five months for the final report to come out? >> i never told the mayor to disregard that memo? in fact, if you look at appendix 3 to my testimony, you'll see what actually occurred during the conversation that i had with the mayor. >> there's great dispute on that coming across the board. >> yes, i wrote the email. and i know what i said. and if we could take the time to take a moment to talk about that, i think we could clear that up. >> i'm not sure we could. mr. del toro certainly has a
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different, different recollection of it, as well as responses to him. and i had the opportunity to talk with him in flint this saturday as well. very different from what we're being told here. and that's the concern. again, the human decency act. when the issue was brought to you, by authorities in the field, by actual testing, the epa didn't do what it needed to do, even if the other entities going down to the local level and the state level weren't doing their duty and we're certainly going to ask them about those issues. and i look forward to their responses as well mr. chairman. i see my time is up, i yield back and hopefully i can gain some time from other individuals down the road. >> thank the jarks mr. wahlberg. we now recognize the gentleman from new york, ms. maloney for five minutes.gentleman mr. wahlberg. we now recognize the gentleman from new york, ms. maloney for
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five minutes. >> the flint drinking water crisis is a national scandal and it cries out for accountability from those that are responsible. and that is what we are trying to accomplish today. i would like to begin with mayor walling. mayor walling and mr. early's statement for this committee, he made several statements that specifically concern the involvement of yourself and the city council in the decision to switch to the flint water. first, mr. early alleges and i quote, quote the concept of using the flint river is an
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interim water source, was inherent in the city council's kwa water authority vote. and kurtz' mark 2013 order. enquote. so mayor wall, at any time did the city council ever vote on using the flint river as an interim source of water? >> no. >> now mr. earl ey never says that the city council voted on this issue. rather he very clearly implies that somehow their vote to join the kwa water authority meant that they approved the use of the flint river as an interim source. so mayor walling, in your prepared statement today before the committee, i quote, the decision in june of 2013 to
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switch to the flint river was contrary to the water plans and financial forecasts provide the to me in the flint city council in march of 2013. end quote. >> i am going to put on the screen a document entitled "original projection summary comparison, the kwa and dwsd, k water authority to the detroit water authority." what's notable to me when you see this, this is a seamless movement. never does this document mention the taking of water from the flint river. is that correct, mr. mayor? >> that's correct. >> and this is what was put before the city council, is that correct? >> that's right. that was march, 2013. >> and if i were a member of that city council, i would think that was a seamless movement and
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that the flint river was never touched. and that the kwa and detroit water would be what was there. is that your interpretation of it? >> that was what was provided in the documents. that's what took place in the city council meeting. the comments that i and others made. >> now mr. earley also alleges that he quote -- delegated all day-to-day operational responsibilities of the department of planning and development and the department of public works to mayor walling as of june 2014. which notably is after, after the switchover. so mayor walling, it appears to me that mr. earley is attempting to deflect blame for this crisis on to you. and to the city council of flint. what's your response to that? >> i was surprised when this statement was first made. it was made through an op-ed i believe in october of 2015.
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first of all, mr. early at the time was serving as the city manager in the city of saginaw. he was not serving in the city of flint. i was, and i know what happened and what the process was. the first frequently asked questions that the city of flint provided in early february of 2015, when so many of the issues came out about the tthm crisis, was that the finance director, and the city's public works director provided that recommendation to efm kurtz in june of 2013. >> so in reality, to cut to the chase of it, who actually made the major decisions related to the water issues in flint? who made those decisions? >> they were put in place by emergency financial manager kurtz in june of 2013. that included an adopted two-year budget that set the equipment and purchasing and personnel for the department of
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public works for the next two years. that's what mr. earley later inherented. >> mayor walling, would mr. farley have had the paurks would mr. earley have had the power to keep clean detroit water flowing, if he wanted to? >> yes, the emergency managers often amended the budgets they were working with, in consultation with the state. >> they had that power, not the city council? >> correct. >> i thank the gentlewoman. i now recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. ramash for five minutes. >> thank you, especially to professor edwards who has been an extremely valuable expert in this area. and i share your concerns about the epa and its role and ms. hedman's role in this and mr. wahlberg, made many important points in that regard. i'm going to ask some questions to mr. earley.
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mr. earley, you wrote a column for the detroit news, in october 2015, is that correct? >> that is correct, sir. >> mr. chairman, i would like to ask unanimous consent to enter this op-ed into the order. >> that is granted. >> you made a statement that the decision to switch over to the flint river was made by the previous emergency manager and the city council, correct? >> that is correct. >> in your op-ed, you say it fell to me to oversee the implementation, correct? >> that is correct. >> now also in your op-ed it says, it did not fall to me to question, second-guess or invalidate the actions taken prior to my appointment. do you really believe that? >> i believe that based on the fact that there was no petition, there was no effort made to engage me to change what had already been implemented.
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>> so you believe as an emergency manager, someone put in charge of the city of flint, it doesn't fall on you to question, second-guess or invalidate any actions taken prior to your appointment? >> what i mean by that is it does not fall to me to arbitrarily change that. that's what i was referring to. >> isn't the job of a city manager to question things? isn't that why you're brought in? >> that's part of the reason, yes. >> if as a congressman, if i took the position that it's not my job to question, second-guess or invalidate any actions that happened prior to my being here, would i be doing my job? >> well if everybody were telling you that the project was on course and everything was going well, there was nothing to second-guess. >> so if congress passes something in a previous term and i get elected, i'm just supposed to say everything's okay. i don't have any work here, is that right? >> what i'm saying is that you would obviously have to do your own due diligence, but if it comes up that there's nothing to change, there's nothing to
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change. and if people are telling you that the project is on course, keep in mind, that was only one of many projects in a distressed community that the emergency manager was responsible for. >> so in your op-ed you also say at the time the decision was made, there was no way to predict such an unfortunate outcome. you also call it an unintended consequence with no blame to affix. so as a person appointed in this position, or as an elected official, are we not supposed to concern ourselves with unintended consequences? we're just -- not supposed to think about those things? >> that's not what i'm saying. i'm saying because of those unintended consequences we now have what is known as the flint water crisis. in hindsight, there's probably a lot more that everyone would have done. a lot more questioning everyone would have done. but when you have an 18-month window to turn around a distressed community going through its second round of state intervention, the object is to get the work done. and listen to as many people as
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you can to assist you in getting the work done. >> isn't it your job to think about unintended consequences? >> we think about the possibility of hypotheticals, absolutely. >> do you feel you did that in this case? >> i believe based on the information we were given, we acted responsibly and did what we did. knowing the information we had at the time. yes, sir. >> according to michigan's emergency manager law, quote upon appointment an emergency manager shall act for and in the place and stead of the governing body and the office of chief administrative officer of the local government. additionally the emergency manager shall have broad powers to insure the local government capacity to provide or cost be provided as necessary, governmental services essential to the public health, safety and welfare. >> what in your view is the emergency manager's role in overseeing the daily duties of city employees? >> well, as i said earlier in my comments, as a city manager, i've always involved the elected and the appointed officials in the work that i do. and i did no different as the
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emergency manager. in involving them because they're the experts. they're the ones that handle the day-to-day operations. so they were very much involved here. >> when a city has an emergency manager, who is responsible for insuring compliance with state and federal laws regarding safe drinking water? >> well regarding anything, the emergency manager obviously is the person responsible for making sure those things get done and i've always accepted that. >> you take responsibility for that? because in your op-ed you say the headline is, don't blame e.m. for water disaster. >> i'm trying to draw distinction between responsibility and blame. and we were all responsibility by virtue of our roles, i was very responsible in my role. >> what role did you have and what steps did you take in insuring the flint water treatment plan, treatment plant was prepared to meet state and federal drinking water standards? knowing that the flint river would be the primary water source? >> we had regular meetings on the progress. for upgrading the plant, as we
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got up to the switching over to the flint water, i had regular meetings with the treatment staff, the mayor was part of the regular meetings. we all had discussions about the progress and the things being encountered in the switch. once we made the switch and we got the complaints about the quality of the water, we went to the deq, we got a boil water advisories, which are common in the case of treating water. we had meetings on a couple of occasions with the mdeq to talk about what's going on and what is actually being treated. and let me again state for the record, and none of those meetings were the current issues that we're dealing with now a problem. they were not addressed. they were not issued brought to our attention. we did everything we could to make sure we were being responsible to the complaints and the concerns about the quality of the water. >> i think responsibility involves paying attention to unintended consequences, thinking about what might happen. i see my time is expired. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> i thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentlewoman, from the district of columbia, ms. norton for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. edwards talked about willful blindness. i want to warn everybody to the willful blindness that's built into the separation of powers system and that is why finger-pointing of the federal and the state side, either on this committee or among our witnesses is quite inappropriate. now this committee has recognized this. to its credit, this committee passed this past february, a bill actually passed a law that requires the epa to notify residents of high levels of lead when water samples show lead levels were the highest at 10% of homes, tested or above 15 parts per billion. why do you think we needed a law? because there is unusual deference on the part of federal
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officials. and apparently it took a law to say when people's lives are in danger, when their health is in danger, there's an obligation to speak up when the state isn't doing its part. mr. del toro did speak up to his supervisors, but he risked being a whistleblower. and we know what happens to whistleblowers in our system. so i, my question is not aimed at finger-pointing. it is clear that once you have the slightest evidence of lead in the water wherever you are in the system, you better speak up. because this is irreversible. you can't turn this one around, people. so i have a question for mr. earley. recognizing the federal responsibility as well as the state responsibility, sir, let's speak to your responsibility.
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you know, people are not crazy. they began to smell odors in the water. they saw the color of the flint water change. and that started a month after the water plant began processing, during your watch, sir. the flint water. now they began to speak out. they complained, even about skin rashes and hair loss. those complaints, it is our information continued for eight months while you were emergency manager of flint. did you ever consider, given those complaints, switching back to detroit water once the public started to sicken and to speak out? >> let me just make again very clear the fact of the complaints, we responded to those. we sent our water staff out to
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collect samples. but keep in mind, we were also working very closely with the michigan department of environmental quality on these issues. while the water did have some discoloration, we were told a number of reasons for that. none of which raised the fact that the water was not fit for human consumption. we relied on the information we received from the michigan department of environmental quality. as this was a manageable issue. and we did what we -- >> mr. earley, you have extraordinary powers. as an emergency manager. was money enough of a concern or a concern to ask the governor for state funds to reconnect to the detroit water system during your time, during your watch? >> we were trying to manage the issue. and -- >> the and the smell of the water and the constant complaints, were not enough of a warning for you to try to do
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something beyond rely on the experts? i mean the experts seem to have been, mr. earley, in the public. drinking the water. >> we relied on the michigan department of environmental quality. and we got the information from them. >> mr. earley, i'm sorry, my time is limited. sue mccormick of detroit water wrote to you offering to continue supplying water to flint, michigan, until the water authority's project was complete. but you wrote back, there will be no need for flint to continue purchasing water to serve its residents and businesses after april 17th, 2014. why did you reject this offer. >> to continue using detroit water as a source. >> just to be clear, the letter
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you refer to went to the city clerk at the time. >> had you no knowledge of this letter? >> i was not the emergency manager at the time that the letter came in. by the time i got there, we had already been notified that the contract had been terminated. what we could still -- >> you were the emergency manager before the switch was implemented on your watch, you could say wait a minute, i'm in charge now. wasn't this your job to look at what should be done now? now that you are in charge, sir? >> we did look at that, and again, we followed the guidelines based on the information we were given. but importantly in that letter, is that -- >> what about the warning that came -- imagine receiving a warning from somebody in the line who says, i have people above me making plans to distribute water as soon as possible. i'm reluctant to go with, was reluctant to go before. but after looking at the
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monitoring schedule and current staffing, i do not anticipate giving the okay to begin sending this water out any time, if any water is distributed from this plant in the next couple of weeks, it will be against my direction. what did you need, mr. earley? >> that did not go to me, ma'am. that did not go to me. that email went to the director of the department. i do believe. it did not go to me. >> your name is on the letter, mr. earley. >> is this the one from, you're talking two different things. >> what's other things, sir in. >> the letter from the the dwsd an email that khyim came from one of the operators that talked about the distribution of water. >> the gentlewoman's time has expired. now recognized gentleman from florida. >> mr. chairman and the members of the committee i think this
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hearing is going to be known as the great finger-pointing hearing. and we've got flint mayor throwing people under the bus. we've got the flint emergency manager throwing people under the bus. and we've got ms. hedman, former epa administrator, for that area. throwing people under the bus. it's somewhere it seems like people were asleep at the tap and not doing their job. if the locals failed, the mayor failed, the emergency managers failed, and there were failures there, mr. edwards, what, what role would the federal government have? >> they're the last resort. they're the last line of defense. they're the last hope of flint residents. >> and the reason we put epa together was to protect people,
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right? in cities, in communities and states where they did not act to protect the water of the people, right? >> that's correct. >> were they notified, there's some heros in this. first the hero, she's here today, is ms. walters and her family, they notified the local people and the federal people and everybody they could, that they were poisoning their kids. mr. del toro wrote an incredible memo. he acted, ms. hedman, wasn't he an epa official? >> he's an epa scientist. >> yeah, he did a great job. a high schooler could read his memo, which he produced, there's a copy of his memo. june 24th. it tells you the violations of the city. it tells you the incompetence, it tells you the poisoning of their children. it's documented. and all the steps and the violations of flint are listed
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here. not just this, but they have a history, listed on the back. a high schooler could read this and evaluate it. you got that memo, right, ms. hedman? >> i'm not sure when i got that memo. >> but you got it, right? okay. june. and mayor, you were aware of this and you two talked, didn't you? did you talk to her about this memo? >> yes. >> mayor? you did talk to her. i went back and checked to see if you talked with your constituents, the woman and families who were being poisoned. we knew this early in 2015. they knew it at the end of 2014. we have the test here that proved, that he went in and he tested the pipes, he did everything. first they said it was the pipes were lead into the house. they weren't lead, they were plastic. they were pvc, there was no lead in there. so -- you told her at the library on march 31st, you were
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aware of it. you went to ms. walters and told were you aware of the situation, you take care of it, right? you do anything. dunt tell that to your constituents? >> yes. >> she showed up april, 2015 at your office and they said you were gone for easter, but they would be back with her on monday, right? that's what they told her. i'm telling you and that's what she told me. today is what, 2015, 2016, march 15th. you haven't been back with her since. but you were aware of this memo, you read this memo, they tried to suppress this memo. this wasn't a pretty memo, because it said your constituents were being poisoned. so this is an incredible failure, i believe at all levels, particularly the federal
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level, that's our responsibility. when we get a memo like this from someone with epa doing their job. and a constituent who reports it and we have the evidence of the poisoning. this, mr. del toro is a hero. and the things he did, every test possible. he conducted every test possible. is that right? you read it, mr. edwards, did you read this? >> his memo has proven to be 100% accurate in every way, shape and form. >> and yet ignored at the local level. ignored at the emergency management level and then the overseeing, that's our responsibility. when all of these levels fail, epa -- you never acted for what, five months after this memo, ms. hedman? >> that's incorrect. in fact the following day i offering lead experts to the mayor and within three weeks, we had concluded an agreement with mdeq to order flint to issue
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corrosion control. >> and what did they do? >> they issued an order -- >> did they do it. >> they did eventually. >> eventually, when? >> they issued an order on august 17th, directing the city of flint to implement corrosion control. >> and the time is ticking and nothing is done and you never went back on them there was no plan in place for more than five months. >> that's not true. >> it was ignored. it is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, i hate to tell you. and again, i think epa also failed. so we had failure at multiple levels, mr. edwards, you've seen cases, you said this isn't uncommon of how they failed across the country. is that not the case in flint? >> well i mean there's a climate out there where lead in water problems are covered up. that people are cheating on the sampling and that climate allowed flint to occur. allowed these unethical civsemp
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at mdeq to assert that there was no corrosion whatsoever. >> you know there were numerous red flags that should have led the state to agree to return to the detroit water, bacterial contamination in the water as early as summer 2014. the legionella outbreak, the astronomical lead readings in leanne walters' home, all of these early signs should have been reason enough to consider returning to a safe water supply. but the response was always the same -- it was not in emergency manager's financial plan for the city to return to the detroit water system. on january 9th, 2015, in response to concerns that it had been raised about the safety of flint's water.
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mr. early, you wrote and i quote, suggestions have been made that the city of flint should return to using water purchased through the detroit water and sewage department. for many reasons, financial and otherwise, the city of flint can ill-afford to switch courses at this point. you also said it is not financially prudent to spin $18 million to purchase water that meets the same deq standards as the water now available from the flint river. mr. earley obviously now we know that the water from the flint river was not meeting the same standards as water coming from detroit. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> did you consider changing course at any point after serious concerns had been raised about the quality and safety of the river water? >> well at the time you
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reference, we had already enlisted the aid of another water expert to determine exactly what the causes were. we were trying to diagnose the causes. again we were dealing with the issue of coliform, tthm, e. coli and other issues. we were not talking about lead at the time. >> the point is simply this -- the city of flint did not have the money. >> but sometimes -- i mean, loo9ú÷pñ common sense should take over, the general motors plant stopped using the water when it started to rust new parts. what would that tell -- what would that tell the average person? i mean, they need to stop drinking it. i mean come on, is it that difficult to determine? >> we continue to rely on the
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michigan department of environmental quality. until such time as they deemed the water unsafe to drink, we were doing all that we could to manage the contamination and to also make the water accessible and -- >> look, after the january 15th, 2015 letter, a few days later, the director of the detroit water system sent you a letter offering to reconnect the city of flint to the detroit water supply. why did you reject the director's offer? >> i did not do that. i was gone from flint, i had left flint by that time that letter came out. that rejection was written by my successo successor. there were four emergency managers during this period. that rejection letter came prosecute my successor. >> it came down to you, or your successor trying to save $18
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million? >> it came down to the fact that the city did not have $18 million. they were already paying some of the most exorbitant and the highest water rates in the country we have litigation pending now from the customer who is are fighting the rates for the water. even before the contamination. >> going along with your line of thinking then, where does, when do we say, okay, public health and safety matters. and it's the responsibility of the state of michigan or the epa, to step in and say -- we are in dangering lives. we are danging people. for the rest of their lives. when does that occur? >> from day one, sir. from day one. >> but you didn't do it. >> the issues of lead contamination came out in 2015. they came out after that. the issues we were dealing with in terms of contaminated water were the tthms, the e. coli, and
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the coliform materials that were found in the water. and that was a result of the distribution system age, it was the result of the number of water main breaks that we had at that particular time. i mean this was a perfect storm for things to happen while we were switching from one water source to another. but we tried to manage those. >> i mean didn't common sense tell you what general motors did when they changed the water system that they were using because it was rusting the parts? what did that say to you? >> what we were told regarding that situation was because of the raw nature of the machined parts, that general motors was producing, the treatment materials we're were putting in to treat the water was indeed having a negative impact on their products. but it did not correlate to a negative impact on consumption
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of the water. according to the deq. >> for the record i have a letter in response from signed by darnell earley, rejecting detroit water's offer. to change back. so make this part of the record, too. >> i yield back. >> before the gentleman yields back, mr. edwards, i give you an opportunity to respond to this inquiry, as well. i rick nice myself for five minutes. ms. hedman when did you first know there was a problem with the water in flint? >> the first time i was briefed was december of 2014. ways briefed on the tthm issue, the disinfection by-product issue. my staff have instructions when there's a significant violation in the system they bring it to my attention. >> you knew about it in 2014. when did you have your first conversation with mayor walling?
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>> my first conversation about tthm, the disinfection by-products occurred in late february. he requested a drinking water expert in that area. and i supplied him with an expert from an epa lab in cincinnati. >> mr. walling you went on television in july of 2015 and told everybody that it was safe to drink the water. did you just do that on your own? or who told you that that was a viable thing to say? >> the mdeq had repeatedly provided assurances, that we heard over and over again in our technical advisory meetings, discussions with staff that the water was meeting the standards, that it was safe to drink. >> did you have a discussion with the epa? >> dr. hedman and i spoke around that time after the del toro memo was provided to me in flint. >> what did she say? >> it was explained to me that that memo was under review. that the scope of the problem was being assessed and my
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understanding at the time was this was limited to very particular cases. because of what was there for lead service lines and plumbing and individual houses. >> mr. edwards, what's your take on that? >> the email is very clear from ms. hedman that she apologized for mr. del toro's memo and mr. walling asked her if there was anything that should be of concern to flint residents. and she said frankly, no. >> ms. hedman, why did you do that? >> i didn't apologize for the memo. i apologized for taking all day to get back to the mayor and this is because i was out of the office for a medical procedure. and in fact -- >> that was one day. >> in fact during the entire time period that dr. edwards imagines i was covering up data and silencing scientists i was actually out of the office. i did not return until july 13th. during that time period, my deputy, bob kaplan, who dr.
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edwards describes as one of the good guys, was actually in charge of the office. >> so mr. edwards, this memo from mr. del toro is pretty comprehensive, is it not? does it tackle the issue? does it inform them about the health of the water? >> it points out that flint is not being protected by federal law and public health is in danger. >> when should that information have been released? >> had epa just stayed silent and not apologized for the memo to mr. wall and told mr. wall that mr. del toro was accurate in what he said, i doubt mr. walling would have gone on tv to drink the water and tell flint residents that it was save. >> is that true, mr. walling? were you talked out of it? the memo comes out, you're getting inquiries from news organizations, the aclu and others saying hey, what are you doing about this?
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and you go on television and say it's safe? >> i did trust the guidance that i was receiving and that's what i regret in this. looking back. i deliberately reached out. i asked the white house office of intergovernmental affairs for a point of contact in the epa. while the city of flint was still under emergency manager. because i wanted to double-check on what we were hearing from the state regulators. and when we're hearing essentially the same thing from the state and the federal regulators, then i relied on that information and that's what i -- >> what did the white house ask you to do? did they ask you to communicate with who? >> i asked the white house for a point of contact. >> and the white house directed you to -- >> dr. susan hedman. >> and that's where, how long did it take before the epa finally confirmed, came back and said yeah, that del toro report is accurate?
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they didn't, did they? they never did. that's the point. you left office, you were there for months and months and they never did come back and actually confirm it, mr. edwards, is that correct? >> that's correct. ms. hedman, you were there being paid by the taxpayers until january, late january of 2016. why did it take you so long? >> mr. del toro's memo actually dealt with lead at one residence. and two neighboring residences. and the conclusion of the final version of his memo. was that the problem had been caused by a physical disturbance of a lead service line and it was particular to that household. >> mr. edwards, this is not a report about one house, was it? >> mr. del toro clearly pointed out that flint was not being protected by federal kreegs control laws, period and that
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the public health of an entire city was in danger. >> this is where you're fundamentally and totally wrong, ms. hedman. and if you don't recognize that now, we're in mid march, 2016 and you still don't get it. you still don't get it. and neither does the epa administrator. you screwed up you. and you messed up people's lives. >> mr. chairman, mr. del toro -- >> no, no, the audience, please. ms. hedman? >> mr. del toro was one of several people at region 5 who were concerned about the failure to implement corrosion control. and had been communicating to mdeq at higher and higher levels of epa management -- >> this information was out there publicly, it had been released. you didn't like it, did you? did mr. del toro, if somebody released that report, did he do the right thing or not do the right thing?
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>> i don't believe he released the report. >> okay. >> i think we need to be clear that there was -- >> was that the right thing for that report to go public? >> there were three reasons why epa could not release that report. >> what are those? >> the first is that it contained personally identifiable information, health information and that kind of information is not something in a we could release. and so before a report is released. that is typically redacted by our office of regional -- >> a black pen would take ten seconds or so. >> secondly, the material in the report included enforcement sensitive information. and we do not release that to the targets or to the general public. that would have been a retax issue. and then additionally, there was data in the report that we neither collected or analyzed and it needed to go through a kind of standard qaqc. i directed that that be done as soon as possible.
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it was my expectation that the report could beized and put in a report that could be publicly released before the reporter could file his story. that was my expectation at the time. >> and it took seven months. mr. edwards, your reaction to her comments. >> i'm just in disbelief. >> my time is well expired. we now recognize the gentleman from virginia, mr. connolly, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i was in local government, mr. edwards, for 14 years, in virginia. and my point of contact on the environment almost always was the department of environmental quality. i thought you gave a very eloquent, passionate and suitably outraged opening statement. but you focus on epa almost exclusively in that statement. but when we actually get to how government works. what the mechanics of it are, a
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local government relates first to the deq. and the environmental protection agency doesn't run water authorities around the country. is relies on the state deq. and i just you know, i've heard a lot of talk about, let's not finger-point. but we do need to get to the bottom of this and how it works. and i don't think this is epa's finest moment. but i for one, coming from local government for 14 years, am not going to let the local deq off the hook. because it sounds better for one political philosophy to try to shift this entire blame onto the federal government. there's plenty of blame to go around. but i don't want to be an enabler to avoid getting to the bottom of what happened and who ledlet it happen. let me just say, mr. early. you said it was your successor
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who declied the offer of detroit water. but my colleague, mr. clay, entered into the record a letter dated march 7th, 2014, addressed to sue mccormick, detroit water and sewer department, signed by you. and you say in that letter, we expect the flint water treatment plant will be fully operational and capable of treating flint water. prior to the date of termination in that case there will be no need. for flint to continue purchasing water service, to serve its residents and businesses after april 14th. sue mccormick took that letter to be a rejection letter of the offer. did you intend it to be a rejection letter of the offer? >> let me respond to that letter there were two very distinct letters back to the detroit water and sewage department. one was drafted by me before, before the issues of lead were discussed, that's the letter
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you're making reference to. there was another drafted by the successor, mr. ambrose, that also said the same thing. my letter was in response to the fact that the project was already under way. that the city had invested millions of dollars into the new water system and they wanted a long-term water agreement. which was not feasible. >> were you aware, when you wrote this letter of concerns about the quality of water coming from the flint river? >> in march of? >> march 7, 2014. >> that was before the switch. that was before the switch from the -- >> the switch was already planned, well before i got there. >> i understand. were you aware when you wrote this letter that there were concerns about the quality of the water coming from the flint river? >> we hadn't switched yet. >> i'm not asking in a question. were you aware of had anyone brought to your attention --
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>> no. >> that there were concerns about the flint river. >> did you have any reason to believe there were water quality concerns, taking water from the flint river? >> i did not, sir, because the deq had certified the water. the state had given the permits, all of the things necessary to move forward with the project. >> your testimony today, and other things you've written. pretty harsh about the michigan department of environmental quality, correct? >> yes. >> you say it missed its opportunity to identify serious pipe corrosion problems. you say it had multiple emphatic warnings from the epa, is that correct? >> yes. >> is it your testimony that mdeq ignored warnings from the epa? >> i can't speak to why they reacted the way that they did. >> i didn't ask that question. factually, are you saying by saying that that they had multiple emphatic warnings from the epa. the clear many pli indication of
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that statement is and they ignored them. is that your testimony? >> no. >> ms. hedman, that statement that there were multiple emphatic warnings from the epa, what is mr. earley referring to from your point of view? >> what date is the letter again, please? >> he says in his testimony that the mdeq received multiple emphatic warnings from the epa. >> i thought you were referring to the letter. >> no, i'm not referring to the letter. i'm referring to mr. earley's testimony. >> in february of 2015, epa inquired about the type of corrosion control that was being implemented in flint. and my staff was told that flint was fully optimized for corrosion control. it wasn't until april 24th. that mdeq admitted to my staff for the first time that flint
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was not practicing corrosion control. at that time, from that day forward at higher and higher levels. at epa, we repeatedly emphatically and urgently told mdeq that it was important to implement corrosion control as soon as possible. >> my time is up, mr. chairman, i want to thank you for the hearing and i want to thank you for thursday's planned hearing, irrespective of our politics or anything else. this is a catastrophic failure. with our citizens. and of government exists for any purpose. it is to protect our citizens. in health and safety and this is a catastrophic failure in that mission. >> the gentleman yields back. i recognized gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan. >> i yield my time to the gentleman from michigan. >> mr. wahlberg. >> i thank the gentleman from ohio. let's go a little bit different track.
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i'd like to come back to ms. hedman again. but initially, at first, epa finally actively intervened in flint in late january 2016. mr. edwards, or dr. edwards, in the last few months what steps have been taken to make flint's water lead-free? i saw you there saturday, i saw you talking with residents, talking about filters and all of the rest. what steps have been taken? >> they have switched back the detroit water. epa has implemented very good corrosion control effective december. we believe the lead levels are dropping dramatically, as the pipe coating is reestablished. and we are currently sampling with flint residents, last week, to see house by house, how much lower lead levels are now and it's our hypothesis that lead is about four times better now than it was back during the height of the lead poisoning incidents in
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flint neighborhoods. >> how long do you think it will take for reasonably speaking, for flint's water to be safe? >> in order to meet existing federal standards, which is not a high bar, as i've already said, you have to do a federally approved lead and copper rule sampling event that flint has never done in its history, because they've never sampled the right homes and they've been using sampling protocols that missed lead and water risks. >> do you have record of those homes that they have sampled? >> yes, we do. but they did not have lead pipe as they, as is specified. like other cities around the united states. philadelphia, it's now acknowledged, they didn't sample enough homes with lead pipe. according to the requirements of the law this is something that epa has been allowing for since 2006. >> do you believe it's necessary and reasonable to flint to replace all of the lead pipes?
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>> i think we have to, you know, obviously that's desirable. i think everyone wants that to happen. no one wants is more than me. but i think we have to consider seriously what's the fearlessly where is the beast way to for their future. flint has more water main breaks per mail than almost any other city in the united states. that's one of the reasons their water bills are so high. there's any infrastructure kneads that have to be addressed. that's why i'm in favor -- i don't think it does enough but i'm in favor of the flint bill to get money to flint residents for their infrastructure. >> we had heard i believe saturday 40% water being wasted due to breaks in the line, leaking out. that's amazing. then you're talking about people having to pay the water bills when they're not getting the water, let alone the water being safe to drik. let me go back to ms. headman.
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if your testimony you wrote i resigned because of the false allegations about me that were published in early january. you specifically cite a january 12th detroit news article titled "epa stayed silent on flint's water" saying that the people who knew about the lack of corrosion control should have acted immediately. let me ask you, is it fallse, a false allegation to say that people who knew about the contamination should have acted? >> no. and we did. we did. as soon as i learned about this i offered lead experts to the mayor and we reached out again to mdeq and within three weeks had reached agreement that mdeq would order flint to implement corrosion control as soon as possible. and in the interim we issued a
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statement -- >> i think mr. del toro would not agree with that. and mr. edwards, what's your position. >> she did nothing to protect flint's children, nothing! >> the article also%/çj quoted michigan senator minority leader of flint who says, anyone who read his memo and failed to act should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. that's the minority leader of the michigan legislature. is he wrong, ms. hedman. >> mr. del toro's memo contained the same things that followed through on june 10th -- >> yet he wu disciplined for his
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memo. >> he was not. >> he was disciplined for standing up as a whistle-blower. >> he was not. >> he was absolutely not. >> with that disagreement i yield back. >> did you make him go through ethics training? >> no. >> no? >> no. >> you really believe that? did you make him -- did you limit his travel? >> no. >> there was no discipline whatsoever? >> none whatsoever. >> is he a hero or a villain in this? >> he is a hero. and to be clear, i recommended him for epa's highest award. >> when? >> in about september. and in his typical modest way, he declined to be nominated because his work wasn't finished. >> you need to go back and read the e-mails and the memos that were provided to us by the epa. because that is not what was happening within your organization. >> so -- >> and you were are in charge of that organization. >> so i can tell you that my deputy who was in charge during
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the time period that you're concerned about got wind of that and he went down to the water division and put an end to it. and when i called him, he told me that i didn't even have to tell him, he took care of it. >> did anybody at the epa do anything wrong? >> are you asking me to question if in -- if i could do this all over again -- >> no. i'm asking you. you were in charge. did anybody at the epa do anything wrong? >> i don't think anyone at epa did anything wrong but i do believe we could have done more. >> wow. mr. cummings. >> mr. chairman, i want to clear -- well, ms. hedman, you're under oath, you understand that? >> yes. >> and i think -- i just want to make sure you are clear as to what you're saying. because i don't -- if you're not
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clear, i don't want you to be subjected to some kind of criminal inquiry. i just want to ask you this. did you retaliate against mr. del toro in any way? >> absolutely not. >> and so you said something just a moment ago, you said your deputy did something. what was that? you said he cleared it up. what did he clear up? >> so after i sent an e-mail to the mayor -- the mayor requested that we reach out to the reporter again. and i replied to the mayor by saying at this point i'm not inclined to have my staff have contact with the reporter. they need to finish the report. because i did believe they would be able to get a final report out. i understand, through a series of e-mails that came to me later, i would say around july 7th or 8th, that that was
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forwarded and interpreted as some sort of direction that nobody was supposed to talk to reporters. and when i saw that e-mail, i called my deputy, because i was concerned about the flavor of that interpretation. and he said, no problem, i've already handled it. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> thank the gentleman. we'll go to the gentlemen from pennsylvania mr. cartwright for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. earley, i want to revisit a question with you on the decision on using the flint river. you submitted an opening statement in writing, am i correct in that? >> that is correct, sir. >> and i read it, it said it was not my decision to use the flint river, nor was it a two-pronged decision. you said the concept of using the flint river as an interim
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water source was inherent in the vote in the march 2013 order. have i read that correctly? >> yes, sir. >> you said the decision to use the flint river was inherent in the city council's vote. that's as opposed to explicit. it does not explicit, correct? >> that is correct, sir. >> you know what? that's not what mayor walling testified to. in fact, mayor walling also submitted a written statement and he said, on page four of nine, contrary to the facts, governor snyder's office and former emergency manager darnell earley have stated and repeatedly blatantly false claims that i and the flint city council made the switch to the flint river. did you read that? did you have access to his opening statement? >> i did not, sir. >> well he said that. and mr. walling, simple yes or
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no, do you stand by that remark? >> yes. >> that's a yes for the record. >> yes. >> all right. so here's the point, mr. earley. you were the one with the power at the time. i would like to clarify your powers as emergency manager at the time. i'm going to read to you the passage from the 2012 law that created the position of emergency manager and it says this. the emergency manager shall have broads powers to rectify a financial emergency and to ensure the physical accountability of the local government and the local government's capacity to provide ore cause to be provided necessary government services essential to the public health, safety and welfare. have i read that correctly? >> that is correct sir sir. >> do you agree that as emergency manager you had broad powers? >> yes, sir. >> and once you issued opinions, it was law. quote, an order issued under this section is binding on the local elected and appointed officials and employees, agents
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and contractors. have i read that correctly? >> yes, sir. >> and you used those broad powers to cut $18 million from the budget by moving away from the detroit water to the flint river and this was the agenda from governor snyder's office to save money. that was the emergency referred to in emergency manager, it wasn't an emergency in the environment or in public water or drinking supply. it was an emergency about money. it was a money emergency manager that you were and your testimony you said a proposal to stay on detroit water was quote an unsustainable financial fantasy. have i read that correctly? >> yes, sir. >> did you at any time use your broad powers to request additional state funds to help flint purchase safe detroit water during the transition to kwa? >> no, sir. >> but that's exactly what they did after tens of thousands of
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people were poisoned by lead in the drinking water of flint, correct? >> yes, sir. >> mr. earley, it took a public health crisis of these proportions with thousands of victims for flint finally to receive the state funds it needed to protect its citizens, didn't it? >> yes, sir. >> so i wonder what all this says about the governor of michigan, the emergency manager law says this, and i quote, the emergency manager shall serve at the pleasure of the governor. you are doing the governor's bidding. in fact i read the "detroit news" this morning an your pos tore wu reverend marlon jennings. >> a pastor i know from the city of flint. >> he was talking about you in today's paper. it's unfortunate that he was caught up in this quad mire of responsibility to the governor and his position and at the same time trying to serve the people of flint, jennings said. quote, it turned out that the
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two were diametrically opposed. his job as emergency manager is to carry out the wishes and execute the plan and program of the governor. did you see that in the paper this morning? >> i have not seen that yet, sir. >> you don't have reason to disagree with the pastor, do you in. >> i would say that the role as designed r find there is pretty narrow. a much broader role. i think the real goal is to return the city or the school district back to financial solvency. >> after all of this the governor appointed you to be emergency manager to detroit public schools after you got done with flint and your salary was $41,000 more than what you made in flint. am i correct in that? >> yes. >> looks like the governor was pleased with your performance in flint. i yield back. >> now recognize the gentleman from north carolina. mr. meadows for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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ms. hedman let me come to you because the chairman and the ranking member both question i guess your last round of testimony. and so is it your sworn testimony that you did not directly or indirectly retaliate against mr. del toro for him being a whistle-blower? is that your sworn testimony in. >> my sworn testimony is that i certainly did not and i have no knowledge of anyone in epa who did so. >> and you've looked very closely at that? we've been led to believe very differently. that's why i'm giving you one last chance to perhaps correct your testimony here today. because you're under sworn testimony. and we're very concerned that we get the whole truth and nothing but the truth. so that's -- you have no knowledge indirectly or directly
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of any retaliation that came against him? >> no. >> mr. edwards, you've worked very closely with mr. del toro. how would you characterize that statement in light of your close working with him? >> i don't think ms. hedman understands the climate she created at region 5 epa. even before mr. del toro wrote that memo, he told me that he had to protect flint's children while minimizing the likelihood he would be retaliated against. >> so do you think -- had he shared with you that he's been retaliated against? is that your belief? >> well, i mean, obviously he was told not to talk to anyone to flint or about flint. a deal of some sort was made between epa and mdeq where mdeq felt emboldened to stay, in
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quote, they had handled mr. del toro, that flint residents would not be hearing from mr. del toro again. and so that's when we got involved. i mean i invested $200,000 of my own money, a team of 25 volunteers from virginia tech had to go in and demonstrate that flint residents were not crazy and that lead in water was high. >> so is it your testimony that somehow mr. del toro was handled by the epa and the department of water quality for michigan to silence him in his defense of the children of flint, michigan? >> absolutely. >> ms. hedman how do you respond to that? >> i know of absolutely no evidence to substantiate that claim. >> well, let me go a little bit further. because some of what you know and what you don't know is, i guess, the problem. because your testimony here
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today says that the epa had no fault. that was in your opening testimony. there is no fault. >> no. >> and so you stand by -- i mean, in light of everything that's coming out, that there's no fault for the epa on behalf of the epa? >> that is not what i said in any testimony or in my answer to the questions to the gentlemen. >> so the epa is at fault? >> i said that i thought we could have done more. >> listen, that's political speak. are you at fault or not? yes or no. >> in what respect? >> in any respect, i guess, ms. hedman. here's the problem. we've got children who have been harmed and yet we're sitting here equivocating over words that may or may not establish blame and i'm concerned that what we're doing is we're just wiping our hands of it and saying that i had nothing to do
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with it. is that your testimony? >> it's not. >> is epa partially at fault? >> i believe we could have done more. >> all right. let me go on a little bit further. mr. edwards, in our last time when you were here before this exact same committee, i asked you about a foia request from the epa because you had gotten lots of information from michigan and zero from the epa. did you ever get your foia request responded to? >> no. they're still outstanding ape i appeals from nine years ago. the request for the flint e-mail came in all redacted. >> when did those come in? the day after the hearing? >> i did get one foia the day after the hearing. >> isn't it amazing how it takes a congressional hearing to have the federal law adhered to. and it's redacted? >> the e-mails --
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>> more than personal information. obviously we want to redact the personal information. >> the e-mails we requested about the flint water crisis from epa were almost 90% redacted in terms of deliberative attorney-client privilege or unresponsive. everything virtually was redacted from those e-mail. >> ms. hedman, i mean, redacting all of that, normally when we redact it's for national security concerns. do you think the epa has national security concern here? >> i'm not familiar at all with the e-mail. >> i'll yield back. >> before the gentleman yields back -- >> no. i was going to take my turn. thank you very much were mr. chairman. i want to follow up on some of the things that mr. meadows said. the chairman introduced, ms. hedman a document, it's an
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e-mail, and it's personal e-mail exhibit 6. is that right? anyway, mr. del toro is writing a letter to someone named rita bear. do you know rita beer? >> she works in the region 5 water division. >> he had been denied an opportunity to go to milwaukee for some kind of conference. and this is what kind of struck me. and it kind of bears out what the chairman and mr. meadows have been getting to preside. i told you about this project in my performance review. i'm not sure what you intend by your message. this is the piece that gets me. it almost sounds like i'm to be stuck in a corner holding up a potted plant because of flint. one misstep in 27-plus years
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here and people lose their minds. why do you think he said that? >> first of all -- >> it sounds like he feels like he's being retaliated against. >> first of all, i had never heard of that e-mail until this morning. and i am appalled that anything might have been done that made him feel that way. >> i'm glad you quit. i'm glad you resigned. let me tell you why. and i've told the chairman this. there's something going on in that region 5 that we need to deal with and i don't know exactly what it is, but there are problems. and i am determined to make sure that we do that. you know, mr. earley, i got to tell you, i almost vomited when i heard you say something a moment ago. you said that even after you
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found out that newly manufactured parts were starting to rust out by using the flint water, that you didn't see that as a problem to be -- i mean, wait a minute, now. i'm confused. if they're going to rust out, newly manufactured parts, you mean that doesn't send you a warning that maybe human beings might be being harmed? come on, now. >> well again, i was relying on the information that i was getting from the mdeq and from the staff. i mean -- >> but if somebody -- >> i'm not a water treatment expert. >> you don't have to be a water treatment expert. a 5-year-old could figure that out. but anyway, let me go on to mr. walling. as you know, governor snyder has agreed to testify, mr. walling, before us on thursday and i'm looking forward to that and i
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really do thank the chairman for having him. it's clear that the gof has a clear role to play in the crisis. the governor made the belated decision to help pay for flint to reconnect the detroit water system in act of last year. mayor walling, i want to get your perspective on how the governor handled the flint water crisis. i want to make sure we address anybody who may have been responsible for this fiasco. mayor walling, when did you first start having serious concerns about the safety of the water coming from the flint river? >> i had growing concerns as the complaints were coming in from the citizens. >> give me a date. give me a date. >> throughout the summer of 2014. >> all right. >> and -- >> when did you first reach out to the governor for help? >> i reached out to the governor in january of 2015. >> and in your january 18th
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letter you wrote, and i quote, i am writing to convey serious concerns about water quality and to request your support for my proposed flint water improvement plan. mayor, why did you write the letter to the governor and what were you hoping to achieve? >> well, i wasn't seeing enough being done by the emergency managers to flint to address this problem. i believe this needed to go directly to the governor. i didn't know what his staff were telling him or not. he needed to hear directly from me as the mayor of the city what needed to be done to protect and serve the citizens. >> let me read an internal e-mail from one of the governors senior staff commenting on your request. he wrote, and i quote, mayor walling is seeking to drag the governor into the conflict with both hands, end of quote. mayor walling what is your response to that and why do you think the governor folks wrote that in. >> i've read similar e-mails in
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what's been disclosed and i was highly disappointed that the chief elected official for the state of michigan would view my concerns as the chief elected official for the city of flint in that kind of manner and that staff around him would be giving him that counsel. here's a community that's already under the financial manager that's knew dealing with the tthm crisis and other issues that are unresolved. and i come to the governor with a professional letter, comprehensive, and asking for him to respond to help invest, to come to the city of flint and meet with residents. >> i got you. >> which took him a year to do. >> i get the gist of it. i don't have so much time. you sent another let tore governor snyder about eight months later, september 14th, 2015 is that correct?? >> yes. >> you wrote and i quote, the community is heightened concerned about lead leeching into the water from old service lines and old plumbing and also
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needs to be addressed. end of quote. eight months after your first letter you were still asking for help to improve the safety of water in your community and still nothing was happening. mayor walling, how did you feel when you found out that the state was not treating the flint river water with corrosion control agents for nearly a year and a half? how did you feel? >> i was just stunned. that had been said to me, i know to other staff, to our community in public forums that it was meeting the standards, comparable with detroit, that it was safe. we heard that time and time and time again. this was from the michigan department of environmental quality that we looked to for that guidance. >> mr. chairman, i need one more minute. let me read you another e-mail that governor snyder's chief of staff, due him? >> yes. >> he won't talk to us. he was the chief of staff but he refused to talk to us. he sent to the governor september 2015, he wrote and i
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quote, listen to this one, quote, frankly i think both know that walling went out on a cya effort, you know what that means, right? >> yes, i do. >> due to the election. but of course can't say so, end of quote. what's your reaction to that e-mail? >> it's sickening. this is when we're getting the research results from mr. edwards and we're looking for ways to respond despite getting resistance and to suggest that that was a political motive on my part when i'm doing everything i can despite the budgets that were required to follow, the contracts that are in place. we're looking for answers. we're looking for help. and it appears that the governor's office did that across the board with our local elected officials. that we were all discounted for some reason. >> all right. i got to quit now.
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but i got to tell you. as i'm sitting here listening to all of this, it is sickening, all of it. i mean, there is no reason in 2016 where people should be -- when they turn on their faucet should be getting poisoned water. you know what? somebody said it a little earlier. this is like the pointing of the finger. you did it. you did it. we are so much better than this. and we have to be. this cannot be the norm. and i don't know why that is but i'm telling you, i think there's a lot of failures and i hope that we get to the bottom of it. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. we'll now recognize the gentleman from georgia for five minute. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. edwards, let me begin with you. last month when you were here i asked you some very pointed questions about the epa's responsibility and quite frankly i am shocked, stunned by the
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audacity of ms. hedman's testimony today. let's begin with a brief clip from the hearing last month. okay, mr. edwards, let me go to you. do you believe in any way that the epa's management of this whole thing hindered its employees from having the ability to do their job in flint? >> absolutely. >> absolutely. okay. do you believe that the epa's management made the lead crisis in flint worse? >> absolutely. >> absolutely. who at the epa do you find fault? >> susan hedman. >> pardon me? >> ms. susan hedman who had the memo buried and covered up, stood silent as mr. del toro was discredited for his work. when she was questioned by politicians from all parties through as late as september of this year, she discounted that
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there was anything of concern in flint occurring at all, and that includes mayor walling, people from the state government as well as democratic congressional staff. >> okay. those are powerful words. after seeing this clip, do you still stand by those statements? >> yes, i do. i'll point out that silence on the part of epa is interpreted as acquiesce. >> let's go forward. is there anything you would like to add to your statement that we just watched based on testimonies we've heard today? >> just that mr. del toro's misstep, as quoted in his e-mail was his proudest moment and one of ep action's proudest moments too. >> a few moments ago ms. hedman stated that she responded immediately, and i noticed while
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she was saying that that you were shaking your head. in fact when given the opportunity you responded authoritatively that she did nothing. you said it a couple of times. she did nothing. first of all, do you believe that ms. heaman has provided some false testimony today when you are saying one thing and she's saying another? >> the bottom line is she did nothing immediately to get flint's children out of harm's way. and she has that obligation, she is the top policeman in the region and by remaining quiet, silent about what was happening, he was acquiescing. she was allowing mr. walling to believe that mr. del toro was a rogue employee that did not speak for the agency. mr. walling was quoted in the paper on that. at no point did ms. hedman tell mr. walling that mr. del toro done his job and that memo was accurate. >> so it's very kwb questionable to you when she said that she
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acted immediately whether or not that really took place. ranking member mr. cummings a few moments ago stated that in essence he smells a rat in region 5. was the situation at flint the first time that you heard of problems in the way that region 5 was being handled under the leadership of ms. hedman? >> the first time i heard of problems was when mr. del toro was thinking about how to reveal the problem. mr. del toro was afraid that he would be retaliated against, but he nonetheless had the moral obligation to protect flint's children. and so in that climate, type of environment, what is an employee to do. he took the best course of action that he could to get the memo out both in the epa and into the hands of ms. walters and myself, a press story was written about this memo and even
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then ms. hedman covered this up. >> so you firmly believe there was a coverup? >> nothing was done to protect flint's children. >> okay. >> until he got involved, until he started sampling and i invested $200,000 and this team of volunteers from virginia tech donated four person years of effort, they never would have installed corrosion control. never. >> so it would still be taking place had you not stepped? >> i believe so. there's no record that mdeq would have been forced to meet federal law in flint. >> okay. mr. chairman, i see my time has expired. thank you. >> thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentlewoman from illinois, ms. kelly for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. i want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for working together to bring those responsible for this crisis here. and i want to thank mr. edwards for coming back before this
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committee again. the crisis in flint is an inexcusable failure at various levels of government. but we also have an obligation to learn how we can prevent further tragedy. flint's water crisis is causing knew mispalty to take a scloeser look at their own water supply. every day i hear from constituents who want to know if their water is safe. i have pregnant women call mow who want to know that their local governments aren't mismanaging their water supply, given the safety dangers that can arise. what would you reck to municipalities using lead pipes that are now concerned about their own water supply? >> i actually applaud an action epa took two weeks ago that close the loopholes in sampling that allow lead to be low when you collect the sample ls.
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these practices are occurring all over the country and we've been complaining about them, shouting about them for ten years. and it took something like flint before epa office of drinking water and ground water released a memo that will better meet the intent of the lead and copper rule. >> anything else you would recommend along those lines? all i've ever wanted was the original intent of the lead and copper rule to be met. >> and what about state governments? what more can they do? >> well, you know, the state governments have been operating in this climate that epa created in which cheating was condoned. and mdeq exploited every one of those loopholes to hide the high lead in flint's water, even to the point where they would not have had to install corrosion control. that is a fact. it's absolutely clear in the record they were passing the lead and copper rule using these loopholes and using that as an
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excuse to not install corrosion control. and in fact there is an e-mail where mr. del toro asked mdeq to stop preflushing, precleaning the pipes the night before sampling. this is something we've been screaming about to stop because it caused lead poisoning of children in d.c. in 2006 to 2008, and mdeq said, well, it's not the law yet and we're not going to do that until epa makes it the law. so that was very clear in the e-mails they were going to use every single loophole, every trick that epa allowed to hide this lead in water problem. >> then finally, what can we do as a congress or a committee to ensure that governments of all levels are doing all they can to perform basic functioning of providing every american with safe drinking water? >> i think the most important thing is to create a climate in which the thousands and thousands of great employees at epa all across the country and
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at mdeqs all across the country can do their job. where employees like mr. del toro are allowed to do their job without fear of being retaliated against either directly or indirectly. >> thank you. ms. hedman you were the region 5 administrator for the ep ashe and prior to that worked an attorney in the office of the attorney general. do you agree with mr. edwards assessments? >> i agree generally that there are improvements to be made in sampling protocols and in the lead and copper rule. and although i'm no longer at epa, i'm pleased to see that epa is moving in that direction. >> okay. one thing i would like to see that we continue to have hearings, like we don't have these hearings and just stop, but maybe six months from now or a year from now that we check back on flint so the people of
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flint still know we're concerned. of course they know they have representative lawrence and my colleagues on the other side from michigan. i want you to know that we're all concerned. with that i yield the remainder of my time to ranking member cummings. >> i want to say to the gentle lady that i agree with you. we have to continuously follow up on this situation. the thing i don't want. every time i think about flint, i think about that trina to be frank with you. after all of the cameras are gone and the attention moves away, the question is where are the people left. where are these children left. i know we talk a lot about children. but i'm also concerned about the adults because they too are drinking this water. i'm sure the chairman with work with us. i'm looking guard to that so we can stay on top of it. thank you, mr. chairman. >> absolutely. i concur and i appreciate the gentlewoman's questions. she has my commitment that we'll continue to follow up. we'll now recognize the
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gentleman from wisconsin for five minutes. >> sure. just have a few questions for ms. hedman. it's good to flush out your background and i see you graduated from the university of wisconsin law school with me. congratulation. i want to find out a little bit about how you got the job. you used to work for lisa in nlds and you switched over to this job. can i ask why did you apply for the job, who let you know the job was available, that sort of thing in. >> i didn't apply for the job. in fact i actually wrote a number of recommendations for other people to take the job. and when i was first approached my answer was no. i, however, was persuaded to take the job. i will tell you that one of the reasons i was hesitant is i recognized the huge, huge problems9xt that epa has to dea
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with in appe period of declinin budgets and it seemed a huge task to take on. but i did. >> who asked you to -- who approached you about the job? you said you didn't want the job but people approached and begged you to take it. >> i received a call from the epa administrator. >> secretary jackson? >> yes, administrator jackson. >> okay. mr. edwards, you're kind of familiar with ms. hedman's background? >> sorry. mr. edwards, we can come back to you. he has his own personal water issue at the moment. he'll be right back. we'll come back to you if you would like. there he comes. here he comes. sorry. he's back. we won't dock you the time. go ahead.
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>> why specifically or what was your background that caused secretary jackson to feel you would be qualified for this job? >> i understand i had been recommended by a number of people to her. i have, as you pointed out, a law degree. i also have a ph.d. in environmental studies and i've spent my entire life essentially working to protect public health and the environment. often representing citizen groups like the good people of flint. >> okay. mr. edwards, we just asked a question of ms. hed mab are you familiar with her background or could you comment in general about what you feel her kwal fiegss are for running district 5? >> no, i don't know anything about her background. >> okay. so in other words, okay, back to ms. hedman. so you were hired for epa at the
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suggestion of ms. jackson. other people may have recommended you. could you give me examples of people you said would cause you to be a good person in district 5? you said other people recommended you. do you know who those people were? >> i believe some people in environmental groups actually recommended him for the job. >> okay. i'll yield. would you like me to yield the remainder of my time to you? >> we'll come back next, i think. >> the remainder of my time. >> now recognize the gentlewoman from michigan for five minutes. >> i want to thank the ranking member and the chairman for calling this hearing. i'm a child of michigan and have dedicated 25 years of my life to
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public service. and this issue has created anxiety, sadness, frustration and right now i have knots in my stomach. because as my colleagues have said, we're pointing the fingers at each other. where this is a point where each of you should stand up and accept responsibility. i want to ask a few questions. mr. edwards, because we need to fix this problem. and i share with you your frustration and your passion about epa and we collectively -- because everyone is talking about is this a partisan issue. we work together. first of all we're here today because we work together. the republican chair and the ranking member democrat agree that this is something that's
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worthy of a hearing. and epa should have, as we have now passed a law that does not give them an option, it was a loophole and you agreed to that. let's talk about the privacy issue. so the michigan department of environmental quality has primacy and that means that they have the responsibility for the water, public water system. in something that was interesting to me, they did not provide the corrosion control. why not? >> for the life of me, i can't figure this out. this is such a specialized skill. that's why we have a law that says thou shalt have corrosion control. we have people at state, at the primacy agency to make sure that law is followed. so for the life of me, i do not understand why it was not followed. because every dollar you spend
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on corrosion control not only protects children from lead, it saves $10, a minimum, in terms of damage to your pipe infrastructure. and in flint's case, it would have saved $10,000 per dollar invested. >> mr. earley, you have appointed by the state, the michigan environmental department is a state. can you tell me why -- have you been advised or told why the michigan department of environmental quality did not provide corrosion control? was it financial? was it oops we forgot? there's clear documentation that epa, although they did not tell the public, made them aware, you in your capacity as an appointee of the state, has anyone made you aware as to why they did not provide the corrosion? >> no, that has not been brought to my attention. the issue of the corrosion control and all of that came pretty much after i was there. as i tried to say earlier, the
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issues we were dealing with were related to the tthm and the other contaminants. >> that's a good point. because clearly water that we drink out of our faucets do do not have that in there. so there should have been come chemical added to the water. it sounds as if they went to the flint river and just turned on the faucet. why did they not provide, at minimum, bacteria control? >> i can't answer the reason why they didn't. >> did anyone, while you were there, ask that question? why did they not treat the water in flint? >> the questions we were asking during my tenure was how to deal with the contaminates that we knew were in the water, the tthm, the e. coli. >> and at no time did anyone ask, why in the city of flint, you would turn water on, make you go through the faucets for
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human beings to drink and they are experts, you have a water treatment system and no one treated the water. >> well, the water was treated but the corrosion controls were not there and they were not part of the discussions. >> sir, at first we had bacteria in the water. you do not have bacteria in the water that is treated. we're talking about the corrosion control. that's for the lead. but under your leadership it was contaminated water. >> uh-huh. yes. >> and no one asked the question. so how do we know how to fix it if no unever asked why would we in america, in 2016 with you being in charge and you signed the contract regardless of who initiated it and people in flint, including yourself, knew that the water that was drinking had bacteria in it which is unacceptable. at no time we asked why did this happen. >> of course we asked why did i happen. >> what was the answer? >> as it related to the issues
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we were treating. we were told the protocols in which the treat the contaminants that we were working with, the tthm and the e. coli. the issue of lead treatment and lead corrosion -- >> i'm not talking about lead. let's talk about when you were there. >> when i was there we treated for the contaminants that were in the water. we followed the deq protocols for boiling water advisories on two separate occasions. when we still had problems with the water -- >> in america we don't normally boil water. we turn on the faucet and drink it and trust the government to provide us with watt thaer is safe. if i was responsible for the public trust, that would have been my number one answer to make essure we didn't have to keep boiling the water. why did it happen? >> when it happened the second time -- >> second time? >> yes. because we were told after we did the things that we had done before we were given all clears for the water and that the
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precautionary measures had worked. >> i served as a mayor of a local community and this is my core problem with emergency management. at any time did you hold a public meeting with the si citizens? did you hold public input meetings? >> there were meeting held after the issue of contamination when i left in january. there were meetings held after that. >> but while you were there you did not engage the public? >> we did not have -- >> you did not engage the public. >> the water staff did engage the public as complaints came in and were a part of trying to find solutions for the problems that we were dealing with. >> this is a fundamental problem with the emergency management philosophy. is that you report only to a bottom line and to the governor and that the voice of the people are eliminated in this process. mr. chair, i know i'm over but may i ask one more question.
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i want to ask this question. when it comes to primacy, see, i'm infuriated that someone made a deliberate decision not to treat this water when the primacy or the responsibility of drinking water rests with the state. yes, we should hold epa accountable. we have passed a law now from all sides, both sides agreeing that this should not, it must -- epa must notify the public and stop the water. but before that how do we get our arms around, as a congressional body, that no state will take the arrogance and the destructive criminal activity to poison people? how do we get there? >> i would like to know that question myself, how this decision was made to not follow the law. i mean, did they forget?
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were they trying to save money? i really have no idea. >> mr. earley, he said he was sitting there in charge of emergency management. you don't know the answer. mayor walling, can you give me an answer? >> i don't have an answer because the initial treatment design did not include the carbon filter that had to be added that meant there was additional chlorine. no corrosion control, no carbon filter. all of the warnings signs that were going off, they all go back to the original treatment design that the mdeq and the emergency manager put in place and budgeted for in june of 2013 and we're still waiting on answers as to how those decisions actually got made, what the considerations were. >> i yield back my time. this is where we need to go. we cannot have that happen again. thank you. >> now recognize the gentleman
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from alabama, mr. palmer for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. edwards in an e-mail recently released to the public dated september 11 wst 2015, epa's michigan program director states the following, just to clarify on our call i wanted to remind you that miguel's repo had the deqcc'd. so you can truthfully respond that it was the epa's request that the report not be sent to the ccs. consequently you all never received the report from miguel. good to talk with you all. the program director was referring to miguel del toro's memo that has recently been addressed with and do main names.
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it appears to instruct employees on a way to circumvent government accountability. when you see an e-mail like this, dr. edwards, what does it tell you about the government prioritizing this over protecting the public interest in. >> it's very clear that mdeq and epa was working hand in hand to cover this problem up, as reflected with that e-mail with jennifer crux. and the revisionist history where epa was fighting mdeq every step of the way is ludicrous. objections's continued disregard for plmr. del toro's warnings? i don't know how you could have ignored those warnings as they did. they sat there silent. >> there has got to be a reason
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why they didn't want his warnings to get out there. they wanted to apparently give cover. >> they provided all kinds of cover for mdeq at every step of the way. every step of the way epa was there covering up for mdeq. >> do you believe it provides cover, that a memo like that was intended to provide cover? >> mdeq actually took her advice in the letter responding. they basically cited that excuse verbatim. >> do you believe this e-mail shows, at a minimum, a callous disregard for public safety? >> amongst a few epa employees, the vast majority of the epa employees at region 5 come to work every day to and do the best to do their job under difficult situations. >> i agree with you. i believe this is true across the board with federal employees. they come to work every day to
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do the best job they can but there's that handful who don't that create problems like this and cause incredible suffering for the public. mr. hedman, i should refer to you as dr. hedman following up on the questions early regarding outstanding foia requests. the e-mail showed four former colleague e-mails and providing them cover from the legislature or whoever who might theoretically ask about they exposure to mr. del toro's memo. it is worth noting that the program director sent this from her personal gmail account to their official e-mail. epa has a history of using such methods to circumvent transparencies. jeannie mccarthy has been called before the science committee for example because of using her
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personal e-mail for government business. this e-mail that i've head today appears to be evidence of a delivered intention to mislead. going back to the fact that most employees try to do the best they can, that a handful don't, i think that this indicates that there's a culture of secrecy and a lack of transparency that starts at the top. how would you respond to that? >> i would respond by saying that epa has a policy of not using personal e-mail. and if there is an instance where it is necessary for technical reasons to copy one's government account. >> well she did that. six weeks later. i have got a copy of the law here title 44 regarding federal records that requires -- that indicates, mr. chairman, that she didn't copy this in a timely manner. you know, i want to -- this is not about finger pointing.
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and that's what troubles me about this hearing. it's not about politics. it's about these people who have suffered injury because of the failure of government. and i just want to say this. i believe every member of this committee has a responsibility to get to the truth, to make sure that government fulfills its responsibility to serve the public and in this case to protect the public. we want the truth. i've talked -- i've gotten to know a lot of the members on this committee and i can assure you we can handle the truth, the whole truth. mr. chairman, i'm just not at all confident that we've heard the whole truth today. i yelled back will now recognize the gentlewoman from new jersey, ms. watson-coleman for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you to you and our ranking member for holding this hearing. this is indeed a sad day and a little bit confusing how we get to the bottom of something when everyone is pointing their finger in another direction with the exception of mayor walling
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and mr. edwards. mr. edwards, i want to ask you a question that has nothing to do with flint. my state, the state of new jersey is experiencing a knowledge of a high lead content, particularly in 11 cities but right now concentrating on one city. do you know whether or not epa is monitoring or getting involved in that situation at this early stage so that we don't have a flint, michigan situation? >> my suspicion is that they're probably not. although they did send that memo. and i applaud this, that they sent the memo out that said thou shalt stop cheating on the lead and copper monitoring rouge. that memo has gone out. it's not going to help you in the short term because it's going to take six months before those rules are changed. >> mr. chairman and ranking member cummings, i believe that this issue is broader than what we're experiencing this very sad situation and i very much would
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look forward to having oversight committee hearing on epa's role in this whole issue across the united states. because i think it would be very revealing and very scary what's happening in our older, poorer communities. and so i make that request for you consideration. ms. hedman, where is mr. del toro? >> where is he -- >> where is he? >> physically right now? >> working. where is he working? where is hello kated. >> he works out of the region 5 office. i know that recently he's spent a great deal of time in flint. so he may very well be there working right now. >> let me ask you this question. for 50 years flint, michigan was receiving its water from the detroit system. is that correct? so for those 50 years the water treatment system in flint was dormant.
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is that fair? okay. was there any requirement that before you reactivate a dormant system that you do certain precautionary testing and preparation? >> i know that there are requirements but i can't speak to the specifics. >> are there any epa requirements? >> again, can't speak to the specifics of that. >> dr. edwards, can you answer that question? >> the law requires that when you switch to new water source that you do corrosion control studies in advance of the switch to make sure that you have effective corrosion control in place. and in the absence of doing a study, the simplest thing, the minimum that would have been allowed under the law would have been to continue the corrosion control that was used in flint -- in detroit water. so had they done the minimum
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under the law, adding that or to phosphate to the flint water which has been done for 508 under in detroit, the vast majority of the problems, the leaking pipes, the lead would not have occurred. >> so tell me, give me a time frame. i'm confused somewhat about the time frame when this should have happened. should that have happened in april of 2014? >> this should have been done months before the switch. >> the switch was april of 2014? >> yes. >> and who was the emergency manager during that period of time? >> i don't know at all. >> do you know, mr. earley? >> yes, in april of 2014 i was the emergency manager. >> so then why didn't you, as the emergency manager, ensure that before this switch was going to take place that all of the safety and security measures were in place? >> i did. and i wasn't sure that all that
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were required had taken place. we had been monitoring the switch again, as i said, the project started before i got there. and once i got there we continued to monitor and i received updates from -- >> mr. earley, told you? who assured you that these safety and security measures were in place before actually turning on the switch? >> the director of the department of public work, which is also the director of the flint water treatment supply -- or water treatment department, it was his responsibility to make sure all those things are in place and he has staff working with him and they in turn work with the mdeq and epa to make sure we were meeting the requirements -- >> okay. so now we've introduced another level. the local sanitation department or water department manager? >> the treatment people -- >> the treatment people. >> yes. >> so now it was his responsibility to ensure that that these measures were in
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place and he's the one that informed you that these measures were in place? he misrepresented? >> that we were meeting the requirements -- >> did he misrepresent? did he tell you the truth? >> well, we all know now that the information that we all got was somewhat misinformed -- >> where did the lie start? >> well, the information that we got was from the mdeq which governed our switch from the detroit water and sewer department to flint water -- >> i can't believe my five minutes is up so quickly. because god knows we haven't gotten to the bottom of this yet. but thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. this is stunning. >> will thank you the gentlewoman. >> ms. hedman, i'm correct when i say the epa has the authority to intervene when contamination
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in the drinking water that poses a threat to humans, is that correct? yes. >> when the state has failed -- >> when there is a threat to humans, epa has the authority to intervene, correct. >> and the state has failed to take action. >> come on, ms. hedman. epa has a responsibility to the citizens. you have to intervene. not when the state doesn't do it. when it happens you have to do it then. no -- i'll ask the questions, okay? you're aware of the memo that came in june of 2015 from miguel del toro, right? in june of 2015 mr. del toro was ground manager and drinking water branch. he's a drinking water specialist. in fact, i believe he was a key member of your safe drinking water team.
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>> yes. >> in fact i believe you've said he's one of the top experts in this field. >> he is. >> he is. yet, when mr. del toro reported the high levels of lead in the drinks water, not only you silenced him but you sat around idly and did nothing. why would you do that? >> i didn't do that. >> if he is an expert as you have acknowledged, why didn't you listen to him? >> i did. and i did not sit silently. >> i beg to differ, ms. hedman. instead of heeding the warning of one of your top experts, one of your top experts -- listen, all of us here we depend on people. we depend on staff. but if we don't listen to them, they do us no good whatsoever. you surround yourself with good people, as you did. you surrounded yourself with a specialist. you got to listen to him. not only did you do that you tried to silence him. >> i did not. >> you know, this is -- so what did you do? you sought a legal opinion, is that correct? >> well, immediately --
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>> immediately in june i offered technical assistance to the flint mayor. that was july 1st. on july 10th we issued our first statement urging flint residents to get their water tested and to take precautions to limit -- >> here you have an expert who's telling you we got a problem. we got lead in our drinking water. instead of protecting the citizens, like the epa -- that's what epa is about. the environmental protection. epa. environmental protection agency. protecting the public. instead of saying we've got an expert here. one of my team members who is an expert in this field is telling us we got lead in this water. stop drinking it. stop drinking it right now. but you didn't do that. you sought a legal opinion, because you want to follow the law. >> let's be clear. the data reported in mr. de
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del toro's memo was data related to one residence, first of all. my first question about that was had the lead service line been removed. it was. follow-up testing was safe to drink. neighboring problems, one showed high levels and one of which did not. that data by itself indicated something about the tap water in those three residences. and ultimately mr. del toro's had high levels not due to lack of corrosion but because of physical disturbance the of the lead service line. >> because of physical disturbance of the lead service line. >> construction in the street. >> construction in the street. >> so the point being -- his memo also made the point that corrosion control had not been
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implemented in flint. that was a point that previously other -- >> dr. hedman, i'm sorry. dr. edwards, what do you make of this? >> i'm kind of wondering if she's read the memo to this day. because there are three reports that the city had collected high lead in drinking water from leann's house 100, 300, 700 parts per billion before there was any disturbance. and moreover, her statement that she warned flint residents to start flushing the water, no flint residents got a warning that the water was unsafe to drink. what they got is mr. walling going on tv and saying that the water is safe to drink. that's the message that was sent. no flint resident got any warning about dangerous levels of lead in drinking water or the fact that corrosion control laws were not being followed in flint. no one knew that. >> you know, let me tell you,
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dr. hedman, i'm sorry, there's a special place in hell for actions like this. mr. chairman, i yield. >> chairman yields back. recognize the gentleman from california, mr. lei, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to start with the national issues and then come down to flint. we know that in addition to flint we've had lead tainted water in washington, d.c., in sebring, ohio, and now in new jersey where school children have been poisoned. ms. hedman, this really is a national issue as well, isn't it? >> given that i'm no longer at the agency, i don't want to speak for epa, but indeed lead is an issue of concern throughout the country. >> i have two articles here, one is a report from the nrdc that says study finds safety drinking water in u.s. cities at risk and rdc reports on drinking systems of 19 cities and finds
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pollution, old pipes and outdated treatment threaten tap water quality. then i have a second article says it's not just a flint problem, other u.s. cities are suffering from toxic water. and, mr. chairman, if i could enter these into the record. >> without objection, so ordered. >> ms. hedman, i'm going to read you a couple statements from this article. the safe water drinking act enacted in 1986 required the epa to set standard for the concentration of lead in public pipes with a push for lead-free. this stirred the country on replacing old water pipes with plastic pipes as an ecofriendly alternative. however, many poor municipalities instead turned to anticorrosive agents as a cheaper and faster solution. if flint had plastic pipes, none of us would be here today, correct? >> that's true. >> in se bring, newark and washington, d.c. had plastic pipes, none of that lead contamination would have happened, is that correct? >> that's true. although if there were lead in
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fixtures it would still be a concern. >> i understand. thank you. now let's talk about flint. mr. earley, i read your testimony and i heard it today as well, you -- since you say everything was fine and everyone told you was fine and you had regular meetings with the water treatment officials. did you know that the water treatment plant operator michael gl glasgow said i had people distributing water from this plant asap. if there is water distributed from this it will be against my direction. so it was not fine for him. were you aware of that? mr. earley, yes. >> i was made aware of that e-mail when i sat before the governor's task force.
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that's the first time i've seen that e-mail. i'm not sure what he refers to when he talks about people above him. because there were at least two other layers, one, possibly two other layers of supervision before it got to me. >> so even though you regularly as you said regularly met with water treatment plant firoffici, you had no idea that the water treatment plant operator said i'm not ready to go on this? you had no idea? >> no, there was no regular discussion in that in our meetings. >> stop right there. you also testified this is not a leadership issue, this is purely a water treatment issue. i suggest that this was a leadership issue if you had no idea. even though you have regular meetings that this water treatment plant operator was making these statements that he was not ready to go. i'm curious, you know, mr. walling, i commend him for saying i'm sorry.


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