Letter: Washington needs to wake up and smell the lead
Growing up in the 1970s, we had our share of man-made disasters. The PBB crisis in Michigan, Love Canal in New York and Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.
In each case, government leaders stepped up and solved problems, changed laws and procedures, and got the job done. There was public debate and some disagreement, but people found common ground for the common good.
The recent congressional hearing attended by Gov. Rick Snyder and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator concerning the Flint water crisis was an absolute disgrace. Congressmen and women on both sides of the aisle yelling, pointing fingers, interrupting each other and not listening to a single word that was being said.
Some folks from Flint rode a bus for 12 hours to take part in the spectacle. Instead of their national leaders stepping up to solve problems, they rolled around in the political mud and accomplished nothing.
Michigan’s Legislature has passed three bills and provided $72 million in assistance for Flint so far. The federal government has provided next to nothing. Expanding federal nutritional help for Flint’s children? Denied. Federal disaster status for Flint? Denied.
A bill exists right now in the U.S. Senate to help the folks in Flint and elsewhere. The measure provides for $220 million for infrastructure funding. It is time Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and Mike Lee of Utah to get in a room and get it done.
As an elected official from Michigan, I have a message to the federal government: if you don’t want to help, just be quiet. Michigan will continue to provide solutions, testing lead levels in children and the water. But lead levels are not just high in Flint, but across the country. At some point, federal officials will have to wake up, lower the volume and provide some leadership.
Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville
Chairman, House Appropriations Committee