“Environmental racism is racial discrimination in environmental policymaking. It is racial discrimination in the enforcement of regulations and laws… It is racial discrimination in the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in communities of color.”
– Rev. Benjamin Chavis, Jr.
For 18 months, the people of Flint, MI were exposed to contaminated drinking water after public officials and state managers chose to switch the city's main water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The river’s higher chemical levels corroded the city’s lead pipes, compromising the safety of the drinking water and ruining the pipes’ infrastructure. Complaints from the residents of the majority African American city were largely ignored by state officials after months of exposure. The state Department of Environmental Quality wrongly told residents the water was safe, as did the regional EPA.
UCC congregations in Michigan and throughout the country have been active in responding to the immediate needs of the people of Flint and in advocating for a meaningful response from local, state and federal leaders. The Senate has an opportunity to do something that would help address this injustice.
Flint’s water still isn’t safe. Damaged pipes are now leaching lead into the tap water, exposing many to the risk of lead-poisoning. Many residents in Flint, Michigan are unable to access safe water. The city also has as many as 9,000 children under the age of six who are particularly vulnerable to the lead in the water. Federal funding is critical to replace Flint’s toxic water pipes.
Soon the Senate could consider the Drinking Water Safety and Infrastructure Act (S. 2579) to provide assistance to Flint and establish a pathway for other communities in similar trouble to seek federal funding assistance. The legislation has been stalled by a hold from Sen. Mike Lee (Utah). We must push for this bill to move forward!
Take action! Urge your Senators to support the city of Flint!