October 14, 2021
October 14, 2021
Lansing, Mich., October 14, 2021 – A water crisis revolving around lead pipes in Benton Harbor has been swept under the rug by Gretchen Whitmer and her administration for well over two years. Whitmer, who campaigned on the promise of clean drinking water, has failed on that promise and failed to notify the public of the presence of lead in water pipes, a complete dereliction of her duty. The Detroit News reports:
“State and city officials treated Benton Harbor’s drinking water with a corrosion chemical blend that failed to control harmful levels of lead for more than two years and rejected federal requirements to fully study its effectiveness. As state officials waited to see if the treatment reduced lead to acceptable levels, they didn’t warn Benton Harbor residents that their water was unsafe or provide alternatives, such as bottled water, until late September.”
Experts from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environmental Lawyers from across the state criticize Whitmer’s handling of the crisis, singling out her administration as a primary culprit and stating that the state has done nothing to change its approach to clean drinking water crises since Flint. Elin Betanzo, a public official with the EPA who played a crucial role in uncovering the Flint water crisis, told the Detroit News that there had been no “meaningful public outreach” explaining the situation to Benton Harbor residents to notify them about the pipes. In a statement given to the Detroit News referring to the Governor’s bureaucrats at the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, Rev. Edward Pinkney stated:
“‘That was the No. 1 thing that they could have come out and said, ‘Do not drink the water.’ But they failed to do so,’ Pinkney said. ‘They are in denial. You never hear them talk about how bad the water is… in three years. That’s criminal.’”
For two years, the Whitmer administration failed to adequately notify the people of Benton Harbor or issue any warning or advisory against drinking water from the tap. The Governor was either naive to the grave situation unfolding or knew and tried to keep the people and city officials in Benton Harbor quiet to avoid the public perception that another Flint-like crisis unfolded under her watch. As the situation gains media attention, the Governor failed to attend a press event this morning, sending the Lt. Governor to speak on her behalf.
“It took Governor Whitmer two years to acknowledge a public health crisis was unfolding in Benton Harbor and she still has not declared a public health emergency,” said Eric Ventimiglia, Executive Director for Michigan Rising Action. Ventimiglia continued, “Whitmer’s failures are getting more and more dangerous, and she cannot even be bothered to show up to explain what her administration will do to rectify the situation.”