Jan 29, 2016

A Message from Sierra Club on the Flint Water Crisis

The man-made drinking water crisis in Flint has made international headlines. For more than a year, state officials -- from Gov. Snyder to his appointed Flint emergency managers to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality -- exposed an entire city to the risk of lead poisoning in their drinking water. It's a public health catastrophe with long-lasting consequences for the children under the age of six in Flint who will suffer neurological damage for the rest of their lives.

Sierra Club has been working to help the people of Flint but we need to do more.  Another organization doing good work in the city is the Genesee County Hispanic/Latino Collaborativewhich is focusing on Flint's immigrant community, making sure that undocumented people have access to clean water, filters, and information. But they need financial support and volunteers.  If you can make a donation or a commitment of time, please consider contacting them today and offering them your support.

In the midst of this catastrophe, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter has been working to help in these ways:

  • We oppose charging Flint residents for poisoned water, so we are keeping pressure on Gov. Snyder. The state--not Flint residents--should be paying for water poisoned by actions of the state.
  • We are working with EPA Region 5 Acting Director Bob Kaplan to ensure that the EPA has support for implementing its emergency order requiring the state to act swiftly in restoring safe drinking water for Flint's residents, including replacing the city's dangerous lead pipes. Early on, we wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting a Flint investigation. Within a few days of that letter, the EPA announced it would investigate, including assessing the actions of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
  • Our Chapter Executive Committee appointed a former member of the EPA's national Safe Drinking Water Advisory Council, Cyndi Roper, to be the Chapter's volunteer representative on safe drinking water issues. It's clear we need to strengthen federal safe drinking water laws so fewer people--especially those in older communities with aging infrastructure--are exposed to lead.
  • We have submitted comments to the EPA on a proposed new lead and copper drinking water rule and will continue to advocate for better laws and more infrastructure funding.
  • Chapter staff and volunteers participated in a massive protest at the governor's State of the State address and issued a public statement on the situation in Flint.
  • Our volunteer leaders met with the national president of Sierra Club, Aaron Mair, and came away with a strong commitment of support for Flint. President Mair also personally contributed $1,500 to help organizing efforts in the city.
  • Our local Nepessing Group of Flint area volunteers has conducted public presentations explaining the Flint situation, distributing water and finding ways to recycle many single-use plastic bottles.

Our focus is on helping the people of Flint and holding the Snyder administration accountable for restoring safe drinking water to this struggling community. 


Gail Philbin, Director
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
Twitter: @MichiganSierra

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