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Snyder will address U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

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Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday he’s “looking forward” to testifying before Congress about the Flint water crisis.

The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to hold a hearing where Snyder and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy would testify during the same panel. A date has not yet been set.

“It will be a good opportunity to get the facts out and talk about some of the issues and challenges, particularly at the federal level,” Snyder said on the sidelines of an event in Detroit.

“A lot of work needs to be done in terms of improving the rules with respect to lead and copper. They’re not what they should be today, and we need better rules, so we can keep our citizens safer.”

Snyder was referring to the federal Lead and Copper Rule, which is intended to limit the concentrations of lead and copper in public drinking water systems.

For 22 months, Flint has dealt with lead contamination stemming from a switch in the city’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014. The switch occurred at the direction of an emergency manager appointed by Snyder.

The crisis has been blamed in part on state officials’ failure to require Flint to add anti-corrosion treatment to the river water to keep lead from leaching from the city’s aging service lines.

State environmental officials said they believed the federal Lead and Copper Rule required two six-month rounds of testing before a determination on the use of corrosion measures needed to be made. With that mindset, Flint was allowed to begin using river water with no such controls.

The Environmental Protection Agency has said it repeatedly and urgently communicated the steps that Michigan needed to take to properly treat Flint’s water, but its ability to oversee the state’s management was thwarted by resistance and failures at the state and local levels.

“As we go through this process, let’s learn how we can strengthen not only Flint, but Michigan communities and the nation in terms of the this issue with lead, which is nationwide,” Snyder said.

“In terms of long term, I’m hoping we can have a much stronger Lead and Copper Rule in the country. If not, I look to do legislation here in Michigan hopefully to strengthen the rule. We can do better, and let’s get that done and protect our citizens.”

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the panel, last week accepted Snyder’s request to testify before the committee. A second panel during the hearing would consist of a former EPA Region 5 administrator, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley and Virginia Tech water testing expert Marc Edwards, who is now consulting with Flint and the state of Michigan on fixing the city’s water system.

Aides have said Snyder plans to push for a national discussion on removing lead water pipelines when he addresses the committee.

mburke@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8736

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