CPC Letter to Attorney General Lynch on Investigation into the Flint Water Crisis

For Immediate Release

CPC Letter to Attorney General Lynch on Investigation into the Flint Water Crisis

WASHINGTON - Today, the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and 33 members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging a thorough investigation now that a criminal inquiry has been announced for the Flint water crisis.

The full text of the letter is below, and a signed copy can be found here.

Dear Attorney General Lynch:

We write to show our support for the announcement of criminal investigations related to the Flint water crisis and to urge a thorough investigation at the federal level. We were pleased to hear that federal prosecutors are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and other agencies to review possible criminal violations. This is a catastrophe that deserves the full attention of the federal government, and we urge a thorough review by your Department and cooperating agencies.

Specifically, we ask that you review multiple reports alleging that state officials knew about possible toxicity before they publicly acknowledged the problem. We are concerned that critical facts may have been deliberately covered up to the severe detriment of the citizens of Flint. For more than a year, state officials assured city residents that their water was safe—while multiple tests, independent reports, and questions about water treatment processes indicated otherwise. In particular, we are concerned that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality revised a city report by excluding two water samples that were high in lead in August of 2015. The dropping of these samples allowed the city to meet the federal standard for lead content in drinking water, which it would have otherwise exceeded.

Neglecting to act immediately left Flint residents exposed to a deadly neurotoxin. The dangers of lead poisoning are severe, affecting the brain and central nervous system. Research shows that lead poisoning leads to decreased IQ, intellectual disabilities, and behavioral issues. This translates into barriers to academic success and employment, and there is even evidence that lead poisoning is linked to criminal activity. The impacts of lead poisoning are irreversible. According to an expert in lead corrosion at Virginia Tech, roughly one in six Flint homes has lead levels above the EPA’s threshold, and all of Flint’s 8,657 children under the age of six should be considered exposed, according to a recent citywide public health directive. Given the grave nature of this situation, we believe your investigation into whether or not criminal charges are warranted is necessary.

We understand that Michigan’s Attorney General is investigating these matters—but given the potential liability of state officials, we believe that a comprehensive and impartial investigation at the federal level is necessary.  Therefore, we ask that your investigation examine all of the facts and charges potentially available so that justice is served for the residents of Flint.

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The Congressional Progressive Caucus was established in the U.S. House of Representatives in the early 1990s. It reflects the diversity and strength of the American people, and we seek to give voice to the needs and aspirations of all Americans and to build a more just and humane society. The Co-Chairs of the 78-Member Congressional Progressive Caucus, U.S. Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), welcome your interest in the growing Progressive Caucus.

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