It's Time to Get the Lead Out

Why do certain political administrations refuse to believe in the advice of scientists? We have seen this before with global warming and the previous presidential administration disregarding the data presented by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Now the same thing appears to be happening again with the Governor of Michigan and the distressed citizens of Flint, Michigan.

Yes, Flint, Michigan, hometown of Michael Moore, hit hard in recent decades with the loss of jobs in the auto industry, is now experiencing an environmental tragedy with dangerously high- elevated levels of lead found in its drinking water. In 2014, the city of Flint changed its water sources from the city of Detroit and Lake Huron to the Flint River. A year later, the city switches its water source back to Detroit when it was discovered that water was being contaminated by lead from old corrosive pipes.

The citizens of Flint were understandably angry and upset with the water situation and petitioned help from the Michigan governor and other state agencies. A recent Washington Post article stated:

Snyder said earlier this week that he was making the emails related to the issue public to give residents "answers to your questions about what we've done and what we're doing to make this right." But the emails only generated more controversy. They showed that even as Flint residents were growing increasingly outraged over the led that had seeped into the city's water supply, state authorities were dismissing their complaints and questioning research showing that elevated lead levels were poisoning their children. At one point, a top aide said that state officials thought that people in Flint were trying to turn the issue into a "political football" and shift blame. A message with background information from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality discussing the water situation acknowledged that Flint had a "tremendous need to address its water delivery system.

Where is the political leadership here? The citizens of this city deserve to have their health and welfare protected. Trying to second guess the motives of these citizens by the Michigan Governor and his administration hardly rises to the level of "profiles in courage."

Lead poisoning can cause lifelong consequences for people including developmental delay, lower IQ and attention span and academic performance in school. For children who have ingested water that has been contaminated with lead, these symptoms may not appear for years.

Now that this tragic situation has come to the public's attention, the state of Michigan will designate 28 million dollars to Flint to fix the water problem. The Federal government will earmark 80 million dollars to restore the water system.

Why does it take a disaster like this to get the attention of political leaders that safeguarding water and air and other resources is a human right? The primary responsibility of government "i.e. local, state and federal," is to protect the lives of its citizens. Clearly, this wasn't at the top of the priority list for this governor.

Only two years ago, the Governor of Michigan was so enamored with technology that he made it a point of walking with a robot over the Mackinaw Bridge.

I wonder if the citizens of Flint would have received more sympathy and support from the robot than they received from their governor.

It is time to get the lead out of the water for the people of Flint. It is also time for other political leaders, mayors, and governors to complete an exhaustive audit of infrastructure regarding water, air and other life-sustaining resources.

We need humane action and not robotic obstructionism.

May it be so.