Emotions high in Flint water hearings: 'Government broke it, government must fix it'

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland). 

The U.S House Committee on Oversight and Reform is not happy with Darnell Earley's efforts to dodge their questions as they try to get to the bottom of Flint's water crisis. One person not on their invite list: Gov. Rick Snyder.

Emotions were high on Capitol Hill as the Flint water crisis came before a congressional committee.

"I want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland). "Why would they be paying for water that they cannot even use that is poisoning them? That's not American. As Mr. chairman said: This is not a third world country."

The House oversight committee is demanding an appearance from former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, whose attorney refused a subpoena to testify before them.

"We are calling on the U.S. Marshals to hunt (Darnell Earley) down and give him that subpoena," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). "We're calling on the us marshals to hunt him down and give him that subpoena."

But Earley's not the only one many want to hear from. Gov. Rick Snyder was not asked to be appear on this day.

"The problem is that today we are missing the most critical witness of all—the governor of the State of Michigan, Rick Snyder," Cummings said.

"He got caught red-handed, poisoning children in Flint," said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pennsylvania).

"Obviously Governor Snyder should answer for his decisions," Cummings said.

Decisions that impacted people like LeeAnn Walters who found one person at the Environmental Protection Agency to help her when she suspected corrosion controls were not being used and lead was leaching into her pipes.

Then they reached out to Virginia Tech's Marc Edwards for more testing.

"My average was 2,500 parts per billion (and) my highest was 13,500 parts per billion," Walters said. "Hazardous waste is 5,000. Regardless of this information and the fact that my son had lead poisoning, the city and the MDEQ still continued to tell everyone that the water was safe as the EPA sat and watched in silence."

Most of the blame was aimed at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

"When the switch was made, there (were) actually no phosphates added at all," Edwards said. "There was no corrosion control. Federal law was not followed."

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona): "What would have happened if they would have added the proper corrosive treatment?"

"As Dr. Edwards stated, we would not have had this problem," said Keith Creagh from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Testimony was heard that it would have cost only $80 to $100 a day had the corrosion controls, the phosphates, been added.

"For that much money we poisoned the kids in Flint," said Rep. John Mica (R-Florida).

But the Environmental Protection Agency was under fire too. Susan Hedman, who just left the agency, was blamed for delays and cover ups. The head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, just visited Flint on Tuesday.

"This absolutely is our highest priority," said Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Water.

"Well it sure doesn't  show it to me," said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona). "Because if she knew in November and come February she shows up in Flint."

Concern was also shown for the residents, especially the children of Flint.

"The state spends $33 million on the Pure Michigan ad campaign," said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan). "But has provided only $28 million to make sure the people of Michigan have pure water. The state has the resources, the state has to make it right."

"Government broke it, government must fix it," Cummings said.

At the hearing there were calls for changes to be made to laws at the highest level so this never happens again.

"Had it not been for calls by people outside the system, the children of flint would still be drinking that water," Edwards said. "That's a fact."

Earley's attorney now says he will testify. As for Gov. Snyder: He says he has not been asked to.