Senators Stabenow, Peters and Congressman Kildee Announce Legislation to Help Flint Families
Legislation provides emergency funding to replace and fix the City of Flint’s pipes, creates a Center to focus on immediate and long-term needs of children and adults exposed to lead Legislation also requires mandatory EPA action if a state refuses to warn the public about unsafe water, gives state flexibility to use funding to help forgive water infrastructure loansThursday, January 28, 2016
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI) today announced new legislation to help Flint families. First, the legislation provides up to $400 million in new federal emergency funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help replace or fix the City of Flint’s water supply infrastructure. Second, it establishes and funds a $200 million Center of Excellence on Lead Exposure to focus on the immediate and long-term needs of children and adults exposed to lead. Third, it includes legislation announced by Senators Peters, Stabenow and Congressman Kildee requiring the EPA to warn the public of high lead levels in drinking water if a state fails to do so. Fourth, it gives the State of Michigan new flexibility to use funding to help forgive water infrastructure loans. The legislation will be introduced as an amendment to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act before the Senate.
The State of Michigan has the primary responsibility to fix this crisis because they made a number of irresponsible decisions that caused it. Because the State chose to save $100 a day by not providing corrosion control for water pipes, this amendment requires the State of Michigan to match dollar-for-dollar the $400 million infrastructure funding. In his January 14 letter to President Obama requesting federal assistance, Governor Snyder estimated the cost of replacing the City of Flint’s water supply infrastructure at $767,419,500.
“I have spoken to the President, Cabinet Secretaries, and my Democratic and Republican colleagues, and appreciate their willingness to work with us on ways to address this horrible crisis,” said Senator Stabenow. “This legislation puts the attention and focus where it needs to be- helping the children and families of Flint.”
“The water crisis in Flint is an immense failure on the part of the State of Michigan to protect the health and safety of the City’s residents. While the State must accept full responsibility, the federal government can leverage investments the State needs to make, ” said Senator Peters. “I am committed to supporting the children and families of Flint, and the legislation we are introducing today will help put Flint on the road to recovery.”
"Getting Flint families and children the resources they need to overcome this man-made crisis continues to be my top priority," Congressman Kildee said. "While the state government created this emergency, the federal government continues to step up and provide immediate and long-term solutions to help Flint. Governor Snyder must also step up and provide state resources equal to the gravity of this ongoing public health emergency."
- Up to $400 million in new federal funding will be appropriated to an emergency infrastructure program under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the EPA will be authorized to use this funding for direct grants to the State of Michigan and the City of Flint to replace or fix lead-contaminated water pipes, to hire new personnel, and to cover the cost of technical assistance provided by the EPA or private entities/individuals contracted by the EPA.
- The State of Michigan will be required to match dollar-for-dollar grants awarded by the EPA, up to $400 million in State funding.
Center of Excellence on Lead Exposure:
- $200 million over 10 years ($20 million annually) in new federal funding will be appropriated to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a Center of Excellence on Lead Exposure in Flint.
- The Center will help children and adults exposed to lead poisoning by connecting them to a variety of services available through health centers, schools, and other resources in the community.
- The Center will create an Advisory Committee to provide scientific and technical support for the Center and establish a Health Registry to monitor those in the community exposed to lead.
- The Center will conduct regular community meetings, create and disseminate materials, create a public website, provide assistance to help those exposed by lead by connecting children and adults with various health and education services.
- Includes legislation introduced by Senators Peters, Stabenow and Congressman Kildee requiring the EPA to directly notify the public if there is a danger from lead in their water system, if the State refuses to do so. Currently, the responsibility for notification lies at the local and state level.
- The State of Michigan will have the ability to use funding from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DWSRF) to forgive Flint’s outstanding debts on DWSRF loans incurred prior to FY2016, and lifts the prohibition on using more than 20% of FY2016 DWSRF allotment for principal forgiveness.
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