An internal Environmental Protection Agency memo showed officials didn't think "Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for" while residents of the Michigan town drank lead-contaminated water.
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz presented an internal memo between the EPA official who oversees Michigan, a branch manager in the EPA's Region 5, the associate director of the water division for Region 5 and an EPA environmental engineer about the water crisis in Flint.
In the memo, one of the officials — it wasn't clear who based on the screen shown by Chaffetz — said Flint wasn't worth helping.
"Perhaps she already knows all this, but I'm not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for," the memo stated.
Chaffetz was incredulous at the memo.
"Are you kidding me?" he said, looking at Susan Hedman, the former director of EPA's Region 5, which oversees much of the Midwest including Michigan.
"Why isn't Flint the community they go to? Of all the communities, the community having trouble is the one you go all out for," Chaffetz said.
In April 2014, a state emergency manager appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed off on a symbolic vote from the Flint City Council to change the city's water source. The move aimed to cut costs by requiring the city to take its water from the Flint River instead of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department while a new pipeline was built to connect the city to Lake Huron.
The Flint River water, however, was so acidic that it caused the lead pipes bringing water from the city's cast iron mains into homes to corrode. Lead leached off the pipes and into the drinking water throughout the city.
The state and the federal government have declared a state of emergency, and Flint residents are not able to drink the water coming out of their taps.
The oversight committee is holding two hearings this week on the lead water crisis.