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Rep. Kildee: Trump’s EPA freeze raises anxiety about Flint

Jan 26, 2017

Every year, the EPA awards over $4 billion in grants and other means of assistance.

Within hours of President Trump taking the oath of office, an email went out to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials ordering them to freeze all contract and grant awards, effective immediately.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

That leaves many wondering how that could affect federal aid to Flint, especially as the U.S. Senate approved $170 million to address the lead in Flint’s drinking water last month.

“It was a significant amount of money and that’s why we were so concerned when President Trump made this pronouncement,” said Flint’s Congressman Dan Kildee.

This week, Kildee, along with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, sent a letter to the White House asking how the EPA freeze will affect aid to Flint.

They have not yet received a direct response.

"If they can't issue press releases, if they can't issue statements, can they comply with their obligation under the law to keep people safe by giving them the information they need?"

“Although, there was a statement allowed to be released by an EPA official that gave some assurance that the clean drinking water Revolving Loan Funds, which is the path through which the Flint grant passes, will continue to be administered,” Kildee said. “But we’re looking for a specific and direct response from the White House to provide complete clarity.”  

It's not only the halt of EPA contract and grant awards that has Kildee worried.

“[Trump] also prevented EPA from making any announcements or sharing information,” he said. “And that, of course, raised a lot of alarm bells for us.”

The Trump administration ordered a temporary media blackout for the EPA as it transitions into power. It has Kildee worried for Flint residents. 

“I mean, one question I had is whether that would prevent the EPA from fulfilling its obligation under the new Kildee-Upton law that says that if the EPA knows about lead or copper in a water system and it’s not public, the EPA has to go public within 24 hours,” he said. “If they can’t issue press releases, if they can’t issue statements, can they comply with their obligation under the law to keep people safe by giving them the information they need?”

Listen above for Stateside’s full conversation with Kildee. It includes what Kildee would do if federal aid to Flint does not come through and his take on Trump’s approach to the presidency thus far.

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