Revisiting Flint's water crisis
"round up the usual suspects"
This afternoon's editorial in the Wheeling News-Register, "EPA Shirked Duty To Flint Residents," follows the usual pattern for Ogden editorials: avoid carrying the AP report when the story breaks (so that the reader is given no background on what happened) and then interpret what happened to suit the persuasive needs of the editorial.
The original AP story
Earlier this week, according to the Associated Press, the EPA Inspector General concluded that:
EPA should have issued emergency order in Flint, Michigan, lead crisis 7 months before it did. . . .
The Flint crisis should have generated "a greater sense of urgency" at the agency to "intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised," Inspector General Arthur Elkins said in an interim report.
The AP article also gave the EPA's response to the criticism:
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has acknowledged that her agency should have been more aggressive in testing the water and requiring changes, but said officials "couldn't get a straight answer" from the state about what was being done in Flint. McCarthy has refused requests by GOP lawmakers to apologize.
"It was not the EPA at the helm when this happened," she said.
The News-Register editorial
Today's editorial skips any semblance of fairness in order to blame the EPA (with a totally irrelevant "climate change" argument thrown in for good measure):
It was reported this week that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials knew how serious the problem was in June 2015 - but waited seven months before declaring an emergency.
That is inexcusable, of course. But has anyone at the EPA been punished? Of course not. The agency is too busy worrying about climate change and putting coal miners out of work to focus on protecting people from dangerous water.
And, as with previous editorials that dealt with the Flint water crisis, it also finds a way to blame Obama:
But once the story broke, federal officials dodged their responsibility. And they did not offer as much emergency assistance as they might have; President Barack Obama turned down one request for funding for Flint.
I covered this a month ago (see here) when they last blamed Obama for what happened. As just about everybody who covered Flint reported, Obama had no choice in the matter -- only natural disasters were eligible for the federal aid. Here's the Detroit Free Press explanation:
A disaster declaration would have made larger amounts of federal funding available more quickly to help Flint residents whose drinking water is contaminated with lead. But under federal law, only natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods are eligible for disaster declarations, federal and state officials said. The lead contamination of Flint's drinking water is a manmade catastrophe.
I'm sure the editorial writer knew that but why pass up an opportunity to knock the president even if it's undeserved?
The Inspector General's report does raise serious questions about the role that the EPA played in the Flint water crisis. Unfortunately for local readers who did not get the opportunity to read an objective news account about the report, conclusions are left to a "newspaper" which has demonstrated again and again that informing readers is irrelevant or subservient to the overall task of attacking President Obama and the EPA.
The best thing that I can say about this editorial is that it's not as bad as last month's editorial on Flint -- that one found a way to blame the residents for their fate.
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