Breaking: President Obama declared the leaded drinking water in Flint, MI, a State of Emergency. Federal Emergency Agencies are now delivering filters and bottled water to desperate residents. But only replacing the corroded and aging pipes will fix the problem. Click here to tell the President and Congress to act now on replacing Flint's crumbling infrastructure.
I think you will agree that in the United States no one should be drinking water tainted with lead. But that's exactly what's happening in Flint, Michigan, right now. For more than a year residents have been exposed to lead-contaminated tap water, with many children experiencing adverse health effects as a result.1
Thankfully, Flint is finally getting the attention it deserves. President Obama declared a State of Emergency and dispatched FEMA to, "save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in Genesee County."2 But given Flint's demographics (60 percent of residents are African American and more than 40 percent live in poverty), this situation represents a profound case of environmental racism and injustice. This is especially true since it was the state's Governor, Rick Snyder, who appointed 'emergency managers' to override local elected officials, and his agencies that gave bad and at times misleading reports in a botched attempt to cover up the disaster.3 Yesterday during the a Democratic Presidential Debate, Secretary Clinton even remarked, "I'll tell you what: If the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would have been action."4
The combination of FEMA's involvement and the generosity of charity groups and celebrities is getting Flint clean but bottled water.5 That's not the answer since the water pipes are now tainted with lead. It's time to replace the entire water system of the city, so that people can drink and bathe in their homes without threatening their health. President Obama and Congress can prepare and pass a bill that does just that. Click here to tell the President and Congress that Flint needs pipes, not plastic bottles.
Today we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." In Flint, the people's justice has not just been threatened, but totally eviscerated -- and it's no coincidence that the people happen to be African Americans and the poor, who are most vulnerable to the effects of environmental racism. To add insult to injury, Flint has some of the highest water rates in the country, at an average of $140 a month, and the residents are still being billed for tainted water.5
It's good that candidates like Bernie Sanders are calling for Gov. Snyder's removal, and maybe better that celebrities like Michael Moore are even calling for his arrest.3 But neither of those scenarios are going to fix years and years of neglect and injustice. Plastic bottles and filters will only create more waste for landfills -- which are themselves too-often cited in African American, low income communities.
What Flint needs more than anything is a commitment from President Obama and Congress to ensure their water is coming from a clean source and that water is transported through clean, new pipes. Such an investment in infrastructure could also help the city by providing good-paying jobs, something Flint desperately needs. The only way that will happen is if a new emergency bill is introduced in Congress and signed into law. Click here to tell your representative and the President to do just that, in the spirit of Martin Luther King, in the spirit of justice and because it's just the right thing to do.
Thanks for Standing with Flint,
Anthony for Environmental Action
1. Ganim, Sara and Tran, Linh. How Tap Water Became Toxic in Flint, Michigan. CNN. January 13, 2016.
2. Fieldstadt, Elisha. Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis: Obama Signs Emergency Declaration.NBC News. January 16, 2016.
3. Lindsey Smith, Who's To Blame For Flint's Water Problem?, NPR, January 17, 2016
4. Strauss, Daniel. Why Clinton Brought Up Flint's Water Crisis. Politico. January 17, 2016,
5. Coggan, Deven. Cher Donates 180,000 Bottles of Water to Flint, Michigan During Water Crisis. Entertainment Weekly. January 17, 2016,
6. Covert, Bryce. Residents of Flint are being Billed for Poisoned Water and Threatened With Shutoffs if The Don't Pay. Think Progress. January 14, 2016.