Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

New emails show Michigan Governor Rick Snyder could have declared a state of emergency in Flint over its water contamination crisis months earlier than he did. (Photo: Michigan Municipal League/flickr/cc)

Damning Flint Emails Show Snyder Could Have Called Emergency 'at Any Time'

'This lie goes to the heart of Snyder’s painfully slow and inadequate response to the Flint Water Crisis.'

Nadia Prupis

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder could have declared a state of emergency in Flint over its water contamination crisis months earlier than he did, according to new emails released Sunday that contradict the governor's defense of his delayed actions.

Snyder, who declared a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County on January 5—months after acknowledging there was lead in the region's public water supply—has repeatedly said he could not take action until local officials made a request, which Genesee County did on January 4.

However, a November 13 email sent to Snyder's office from Michigan State Police (MSP) Captain Chris Kelenske, who also serves as the deputy state director of emergency management and homeland security, reads, "As you know, the Governor can declare at any time, for any reason."

"The state will formally own the event if we put a Governor's Declaration in place," Kelenske wrote to Snyder's deputy legal counsel, Paul Smith. "This could be viewed as the state having owned up to how the water issue was caused."

Previously released communications suggest that Snyder told state officials to suppress lead testing results and that the governor knew the water was toxic as far back as October 2014.

Kelenske also noted in the email that Snyder's office had made no formal request for assistance. "A state declaration sets a precedent for issuing a state declaration for an infrastructure maintenance event," Kelenske wrote. "What if lead is found in other areas of the state's drinking water due to infrastructure issues? This action opens the door to any other jurisdiction with water quality issues."

State Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) told the Detroit Free Press that the email is "further confirmation that there was much more concern about protecting the reputation of governor and the state than there was protecting the citizens of Flint."

"It's infuriating," Ananich said.

Progress Michigan, a grassroots democracy group, wrote in a blog post on Monday, "This lie goes to the heart of Snyder’s painfully slow and inadequate response to the Flint Water Crisis."

"Choosing to not declare a state of emergency in Flint further delayed critical resources to people who continue to struggle to get basic water needs met," the group stated. "Snyder needs to resign immediately. Revelation after revelation shows us just how badly he and his entire administration bungled the response to this crisis, which, he too, is responsible for creating."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·

Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo