"Let me be blunt," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in his opening statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "This was a failure of government at all levels. Local, state and federal officials — we all failed the families of Flint."
He is answering questions at a Congressional hearing this morning that is investigating the lead-laced water crisis in Flint, Mich. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will also testify at the hearing.
As we have reported, the lead problem started after Flint switched to a new water source in 2014 to save money. Here's more:
"Water from that new source, the Flint River, was not adequately treated with corrosion controls and this caused lead from pipes to contaminate the water. The city switched back to its original source late last year, but the water remains unsafe."
"Not a day or night goes by that this tragedy doesn't weigh on my mind ... the questions I should have asked ... the answers I should have demanded ... how I could have prevented this," Snyder said.
Snyder places a hefty share of the blame on the "systematic failures" from Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality: "The fact is, bureaucrats created a culture that valued technical competence over common sense — and the result was that lead was leaching into residents' water."
He also blames the EPA: "Inefficient, ineffective and unaccountable bureaucrats at the EPA allowed this disaster to continue unnecessarily."
He says he's committed to a "complete and comprehensive change in state government that puts public health and safety first."
This is the third hearing on the Flint water crisis. Snyder did not testify during the earlier sessions.
Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports on Morning Edition that Snyder is losing support in the wake of this crisis. "In the past six months, Snyder's approval rating has fallen about 30 percentage points. Quite a reversal for a soft-spoken businessman turned politician, once thought to have national appeal."