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Michigan’s Whitmer below hearth for sluggish response to Benton Harbor lead water disaster

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has come below hearth for her sluggish response to the water disaster within the metropolis of Benton Harbor.

The group of Benton Harbor, Michigan, is at present with out protected water because of decades-old lead pipes poisoning the water provide and the state and native governments’ slow-moving responses to the disaster, advocates say. 

Metropolis commissioners on Tuesday unanimously declared a state of emergency and empowered Mayor Marcus Muhammad to steer Benton Harbor’s response. Whitmer visited the town the identical day. 

Rev. Edward Pinkney, who leads the Benton Harbor Neighborhood Water Council, informed Fox Information in a cellphone interview that Whitmer and Muhammad ought to have responded to the disaster “three years in the past.”


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“Town authorities, they failed us, and the state authorities failed us. They failed the group,” Pinkney informed Fox Information. “For 3 years, they did precisely nothing. For 3 entire years, they did precisely nothing.”

The reverend mentioned that it took Whitmer “three years” to do one thing concerning the disaster, and Whitmer’s “injury management” solely happened after his group filed a petition with the Environmental Safety Company (EPA), and cited the truth that an election 12 months is approaching. 

He additionally mentioned that if the group had not filed the EPA petition, it will have taken “one other two or three years earlier than somebody truly responded to this.”

The Whitmer administration’s dealing with of the Benton Harbor disaster has caught the state legislature’s consideration as effectively. The Republican chair of the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee is seeking associated paperwork and communications from the Whitmer administration going again to 2019. 

On this picture offered by the Michigan Workplace of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, second from proper, visits Benton Harbor, Mich., Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, to take heed to residents who’ve been urged to make use of bottled water due to elevated ranges of lead of their faucet water.
(Michigan Workplace of the Governor through AP)

Pinkney says the group is coming collectively in to fill a management void throughout within the disaster and that his church is “going door-to-door ensuring that everyone right here has clear ingesting water.”

“As a result of we can not take one other probability of counting on them to do something,” the reverend mentioned. “We’ve to do it ourselves.”

Pinkey additionally needs President Biden’s EPA to “begin going door-to-door” to assist alleviate the disaster.

“As soon as we try this, then we will do extra,” Pinkney mentioned.

Pinkney mentioned his group must be “made entire” once more by eradicating the lead from the water, including that the Democratic governor may get it accomplished in “six to 12 months” as an alternative of her 18-month timeline since there are solely 6,000 lead pipes within the metropolis.

“Newark, New Jersey had 20,000 and obtained it accomplished in lower than two years,” Pinkney mentioned. “So there’s not a purpose on the earth we will’t get this accomplished in six to 12 months.”

The reverend mentioned that the town is dealing with “greater than a disaster” and that the scenario is “devastating” to the whole group, noting the group doesn’t “even know the way many individuals have died from this lead.”

“That’s the factor. We don’t know — we don’t also have a clue,” Pinkney mentioned. “We don’t know the way dangerous this factor’s been.”

He additionally criticized Whitmer’s messaging on the disaster, blasting her for “abundance of warning” messaging and calling on her to inform the folks of Benton Harbor that their water is “unsafe” to be used.


“That does not make any sense and it do not imply nothing to nobody,” the reverend mentioned.

Neither the governor’s nor mayor’s places of work responded to Fox Information’ request for remark.

Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox Information Digital. You’ll find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene.

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