WASHINGTON 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 the first of two congressional hearings 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.
He and other Flint leaders “were all totally dependent” on analysis and expertise provided by state and federal officials, Earley said, adding that “it would have been unreasonable … to reject their guidance and attempt to make independent rulings on a highly sophisticated and scientific subject matter.”
For months after the April 2014 switch he believed information he was receiving – some of it scientifically complex – was accurate, Earley said.
But in hindsight he said he should have done more to challenge the experts who told him Flint’s water problems were harmless to human health and geographically limited in nature.
“In relying on experts, the solutions I oversaw failed to ameliorate the troubles plaguing Flint’s water,” Earley says in prepared testimony for a hearing Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.