This last November, an investigative journalist named Curt Guyette spoke at American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s annual dinner. He, backed by scientists, doctors, politician, lawyers and activists, spoke about the contamination of the city’s water supply. Basically, officials had made the decision in 2014 to make the switch from the city’s water supply, coming out of Detroit, to Flint River. The original water supply coming out of Detroit contained corrosion control chemicals while the supply coming from Flint River did not. Water from the Flint River supply ended up corroding pipes and introducing hazardous materials into the city’s water supply. Among the most prevalent metals that leached into the water supply was lead. In some areas, the water tested for lead levels tested so high that it was at nearly double the amount at which water is considered hazardous waste. According to Guyette and his colleagues, city officials kept telling Flint residents the situation was under control and the water was safe. Not only that, but Guyette claims that officials also suppressed findings that the water was not in fact safe. The article also talks about how both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns made statements condemning governor Rick Snyder’s actions, with Sanders even calling for his reassignment.
This issue demonstrates the blatant disregard for environmental and public well-being by public officials. Too often we see politicians or corporations ignore health in wellness in order to cut corners or grow business. This situation shows exactly why they shouldn’t be allowed to do that and if they do, they need to be held accountable. Legislation protecting the environment from this type of abuse is not nearly expansive enough. Bills regarding green business practices, renewable energy, sustainable measures taken at the local, state and federal level, need to passed and implemented. Only then will situations like be easier to prevent, and the correct people would be held accountable were it to happen. A situation of this scale, while tragic could be seen as a jumping point. From this, people might see the necessity behind stronger regulations and overreach. There are many solutions as well. The EPA, for one, could be given more authority and oversight capabilities in order to determine if a course of action taken by the government will have any negative impacts on the environment or the general public. Incentives (while in existence, are far too slim) could be given to businesses in order to promote a transition to more sustainable practices or renewable energy sources. It all starts with getting the correct people in office. The American people, after seeing and experiencing these kinds of disasters, need to realize that voting for the right people can prevent this. Politicians who have a history of promoting “green legislation” are the individuals likely to put a stop to this kind of legitimate corruption.