Federal prosecutors in Michigan were working with an investigative
team that included the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General
and the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, a spokeswoman for the
U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit said.
An FBI spokeswoman said the agency was determining whether federal
laws were broken, but declined further comment.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy met with officials and community
leaders in Flint and told reporters she could not give a timeline
for fixing the problem. She said the agency was examining where it
may have fallen short, but declined to address the criminal probes.
The city, about 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Detroit, was under
the control of a state-appointed emergency manager when it switched
the source of its tap water from Detroit's system to the Flint River
in April 2014.
Flint switched back last October after tests found high levels of
lead in blood samples taken from children. The more corrosive water
from the river leached more lead from the city pipes than Detroit
water did. Lead is a toxic agent that can damage the nervous system.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who extended a state of emergency in
Flint until April 14, has repeatedly apologized for the state's poor
handling of the matter.
The ability to seek criminal charges under U.S. environmental laws
is limited, according to Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne
State University in Detroit and a former federal prosecutor.
Prosecutors would need to find something egregious like a knowingly
"You need something that is false to build a case," he said. Simply
failing to recognize the seriousness of the situation would not rise
to that level, Henning added.
In Washington, Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, Democrats
from Michigan, pushed for $600 million in aid, mostly in federal
funds, to help Flint replace pipes and provide healthcare.
Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who chairs an
environmental committee, said an agreement to help Flint was close
and would be a combination of revolving funds and other aid. Money
from a revolving fund is like a loan, with the money going to the
recipient and then being repaid so there is no net cost to U.S.
[to top of second column]
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the
Senate, said aid to Flint must not add to U.S. budget deficits for
"what is a local and state problem."
U.S. Representative Candice Miller, a Michigan Republican, proposed
an emergency bill to provide $1 billion in funds to be used to
replace Flint's water pipes.
The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a
hearing on Wednesday on the Flint crisis. The head of the Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality, Keith Creagh, will apologize
for its handling of the case, and an EPA water official will tell
the committee that reforms must be enacted to prevent a repeat,
according to advance testimony.
The committee on Tuesday evening subpoenaed Flint's former emergency
manager, Darnell Earley, to appear at the hearing, CNN reported,
citing a committee staffer.
But Earley's attorney said the subpoena was not issued in time for
his client to testify, according to CNN.
(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, Serena Maria
Daniels in Flint, David Bailey in Minneapolis and Tim Gardner and
Richard Cowan in Washington; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Grant
McCool, G Crosse and Dan Grebler)
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