House panel calls governor, EPA chief to testify

House panel calls governor, EPA chief to testify
Posted at 1:27 PM, Feb 12, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Oversight Committee said Friday he has invited Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy to testify about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said he appreciates Snyder's willingness to appear before the committee and looks forward to McCarthy's testimony as well.

No date for the hearing has been set.

Snyder said in a statement that he asked for the opportunity to testify about how local, state and federal governments have failed Flint. The Republican governor has come under heavy criticism for the Flint crisis, which occurred after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the city's water supply to the Flint River in 2014 to save money.

Democrats have complained that GOP leaders in Congress were reluctant to call Snyder to testify, despite multiple requests by Democrats to invite him. Snyder rejected a request to appear at another hearing Democratic lawmakers held earlier this week.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said he was glad Snyder agreed to testify under oath about the Flint crisis after declining multiple requests to appear before Congress.

"The governor's administration and his state-appointed emergency financial managers created this crisis and he must answer questions so that the whole truth can be found," Kildee said. "Flint families deserve answers from the governor and immediate solutions from the state about what is being done to make things right for the people of Flint."

Flint is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city was under state management at the time.

Regulators failed to ensure that water was properly treated, and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply. Some children's blood has tested positive for lead, a potent neurotoxin linked to learning disabilities, lower IQ and behavioral problems.

In addition to Snyder and McCarthy, Chaffetz said he has called Susan Hedman, the EPA's former Midwest region chief, and Darnell Earley, who was the emergency manager for Flint when the source of water supply was changed. Former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling also has been invited, as well as Miguel Del Toral, an EPA water expert who wrote a June 2015 memo about lead problems in Flint that was not made public for months.