Breaking: Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder addressed the Flint, MI water crisis in his State of the State Address for less than 10 minutes. While he pledged $20 million to distribute bottled water and filters, it still does not get to the heart of the problem: crumbling and neglected infrastructure. President Obama and Congress must allocate funds to replace ALL of Flint's water pipes. Click here to make sure they get the message.
I think you will agree 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. Yesterday, during his State of the State, Gov. Rick Snyder dedicated less than 10 minutes of his speech to offer more apologies and perfunctory solutions that included more plastic bottles, filters and water testing kits.2
Flint's demographics (60 percent of residents are African American and more than 40 percent live in poverty), mean this situation represents a profound case of environmental racism. This is especially true since it was 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 Some are even comparing the response in Flint to that in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. On Sunday, during the Democratic Presidential Debate, Secretary Hillary 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.
This Monday we celebrated 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 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 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. Durando, Jessica. How Water Crisis In Flint, Mich., Became Federal State of Emergency. USA Today. January 19, 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.