Quantcast

Obama Declares Flint Water Crisis a State of Emergency

By Samantha Cowan

Photos of yellow and brown water, concern from health officials and even letters from Girl Scouts have helped turn a national spotlight on the water crisis plaguing the residents of Flint, Michigan. And now the White House has agreed to send federal funds to Genesee County.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint over contaminated water supplies, the Detroit Free Press reported. Such a declaration allocates up to $5 million in federal funds to the city. It also authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to galvanize supplies and distribute water bottles, filters and other supplies.

Local and state-level declarations of emergency were made by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in December 2015 and January, respectively. But the problem started in 2014, when an unelected state official switched the city's main water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money.

Research has found that the water in the Flint River is 19 times more corrosive than Lake Huron's water, causing old pipes to degrade and leach lead into the water. The city switched back to the Lake Huron supply in October 2015, but with the pipes already damaged, they continued to leach harmful metal into the water supply.

A study released in September 2015 found that the number of children and infants with above-average lead levels in their blood had more than doubled since 2014. Elevated lead levels can lead to behavioral and developmental problems in children, according to the World Health Organization.

Snyder has been criticized for mishandling the water crisis and accused of prioritizing cost savings over residents' health. Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders called for Snyder's resignation, as did filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore.

“This is not a mistake," Moore told the Detroit Free Press at a rally on Saturday. “Ten people have been killed here because of a political decision." Moore is referring to the 10 fatalities from recent outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease. Officials are investigating the spike in Michigan of Legionnaires' disease—a form of bacterial pneumonia typically spread through water—but they have not yet confirmed that these cases are directly connected to the contaminated water in Flint.

Moore was surrounded by hundreds of residents protesting the government's handling of the water crisis.

“There are people who are very angry here because their lives are at risk," Moore said. “They should be angry. We are all angry."

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Hillary Clinton Demands Action on Flint Water Crisis at #DemDebate

Porter Ranch Methane Leak Spreads Across LA's San Fernando Valley

Trevor Noah on Flint Water Crisis: 'If Water Is Browner Than Me, I Don't Drink It'

Banning Fracking Isn't Enough: How We Fight to Stop Pipelines, Compressor Stations and Gas Plants

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new study shows that half of all Arctic warming and corresponding sea-loss during the late 20th century was caused by ozone-depleting substances. Here, icebergs discharged from Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier. Kevin Krajick / Earth Institute / EurekAlert!

The world awakened to the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, which scientists attributed it to ozone depleting substances. Two years later, in Montreal, the world agreed to ban the halogen compounds causing the massive hole over Antarctica. Research now shows that those chemicals didn't just cut a hole in the ozone layer, they also warmed up the Arctic.

Read More
Diane Wilson holds up a bag full of nurdles she collected from one of Formosa's outfall areas on Jan. 15. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog

By Julie Dermansky

On the afternoon of Jan. 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.

After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region's waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.

Read More
Sponsored

By Simon Coghlan and Kobi Leins

A remarkable combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and biology has produced the world's first "living robots."

Read More
Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin (front 2nd L) and officials inspect a container containing plastic waste shipment on Jan. 20, 2020 before sending back to the countries of origin. AFP via Getty Images

The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.

Read More
Trump leaves after delivering a speech at the Congress Centre during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 21, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed the concerns of environmental activists as "pessimism" in a speech to political and business leaders at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday.

Read More