Jan 18, 2021
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against nine former state and Flint officials related to the Flint water crisis. Those officials included former Governor Rick Snyder, two of his close aides, two emergency managers he appointed to run Flint, three former officials from the state health department, and Flint’s former Public Works director.
In 2013, under the guise of fixing the city of Flint’s financial crisis, Snyder appointed Darnell Earley as the city’s Emergency Manager. Under his direction, the city of Flint chose to break away from the Detroit city water department and created the new Karegnondi Water Authority. This move was supposedly aimed at saving the city money, but it meant building a new intake tunnel to bring water from Lake Huron to Flint. Detroit’s system was already doing the same thing, so it really meant spending from 275 to 600 million dollars just to duplicate the old system.
This plan was, in fact, a boondoggle to benefit construction companies and supply untreated water to companies involved in fracking, DTE Energy, big agricultural players in the area, and companies with factories nearby.
While this unnecessary tunnel was being built, the city chose to draw its water from the Flint River.
This water was so corrosive that it caused lead to leach into the water from pipes leading into the homes of as many as 100,000 Flint residents. Thousands of Flint children were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood, which interferes with healthy brain development and leads to learning disabilities.
It remains to be seen which of Nessel’s charges will stick and whether any of them amount to more than a slap on the wrist. They do not include, however, any charges against the corporate financial interests behind the push away from Detroit’s water system and the construction and creation of the new water authority.
Is this an oversight? No way—the State isn’t about to go after the very corporate interests it serves!