- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Latest on the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

The state administrative board has approved a $1.5 million contract to fund the Michigan attorney general’s investigation into Flint’s lead-tainted water.

The board voted 4-0 Tuesday to authorize $1.25 million in additional spending for a special counsel and outside investigators. Attorney General Bill Schuette did not need approval of an initial $249,000 contract because it was below the threshold requiring the board’s backing.

Representatives for Gov. Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and the state treasurer abstained from voting because the Snyder administration’s role in the water crisis is under investigation.

Also Tuesday, a Democratic lawmaker and other Snyder critics urged the board to reject up to $1.2 million in spending by the governor’s office for legal assistance related to Flint’s disaster. The board ignored the requests because under a rule change adopted when Snyder took office in 2011, governor-approved contracts for services do not need board approval.


12 p.m.

Michigan lawmakers criticized decisions made by the state Department of Environmental Quality that may have led to or worsened the lead-contaminated water supply in Flint.

The criticism came Tuesday during the first meeting of the Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency.

The committee is examining city, state and federal governmental actions related to the water crisis. It’s also supposed to develop solutions and make sure other cities don’t face similar problems.

Lawmakers criticized the state agency for mistakes that led to Flint’s failure to treat the water for corrosion control when the city switched its water supply to the Flint River in 2014. Failing to add the controls caused lead to leach from pipes.

No further meetings have been scheduled, but Chairman Jim Stamas, a Republican from Midland, says he would like to hold another next week. Democratic Sen. Jim Ananich, who represents the Flint area, said after the hearing that he wants Gov. Rick Snyder to testify.


10:25 a.m.

A former Environmental Protection Agency official says federal law limited the agency’s ability to act aggressively as lead leached into the water supply in Flint.

In congressional testimony Tuesday, Susan Hedman says she first learned that the Michigan city was not implementing corrosion control treatment in late June 2015, about 14 months after Flint started using untreated Flint River water.

Hedman says the agency did what it could within the framework of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which assigns states the legal authority to implement drinking water regulations.

She says EPA’s enforcement options under the law are more constrained than in other federal environmental statutes.

Hedman says she resigned from the EPA Feb. 1 following “false allegations” that she downplayed concerns about lead in Flint’s water.


9:05 a.m.

A Michigan legislative committee tasked with reviewing findings and taking testimony on the mistakes that led to the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water is holding its first meeting.

The Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency is meeting Tuesday to begin looking into city, state and federal governmental actions related to the water crisis. It’s also supposed to develop solutions.

Chairman Jim Stamas says Auditor General Doug Ringler is scheduled to be the first person to testify.


3:30 a.m.

The state-appointed emergency manager who oversaw Flint, Michigan when its water source was switched to the Flint River says he was “grossly misled” by state and federal experts who never told him that lead was leaching into the city’s water supply.

Darnell Earley says in prepared testimony for a House hearing Tuesday that he was overwhelmed by challenges facing the impoverished city and relied on experts from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advise him.

Earley says he and other Flint leaders “were all totally dependent” on the expert analysis. He says it would have been “unreasonable” to reject that guidance and make an independent judgment on a highly technical, scientific subject.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Earley’s testimony in advance.

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