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17th September 2016
Published on Wednesday, September 14, 2016
by Common Dreams

Emergency Action Sought in Flint, Where Some Still Can't Get Clean Water

As Donald Trump visits city, activists and environmental groups refuse to be his photo op

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

Emergency action needs to be taken for Flint, Michigan residents, two years into its lead poisoning crisis, as many residents still don't have access to clean water, a coalition of environmental and human rights groups said on Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and Flint resident Melissa Mays on Wednesday are filing a preliminary injunction for emergency action in Flint to "ensure everyone has access to safe water—as well as the trust and confidence that their water is safe, a guarantee that most every other community in America has assumed for decades," as Pastor Allen Overton said. The two-day hearing begins Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Detroit, where a judge will hear arguments for the motion.

"Churches and volunteer organizations are struggling to keep up with the demand for services—bottled water, filters, and more—as money and volunteers dry up and leave us to fix this mess on our own," Pastor Overton said, adding that the guarantee of safe water "is still a long way off in Flint."

The injunction seeks to secure delivery of bottled water to homes in the city.

"For most Americans, getting safe drinking water is as easy as turning on the kitchen faucet. This is still not true in Flint, more than two years after the crisis began," said Dimple Chaudhary, a senior attorney with the NRDC. "Many residents, including the elderly and those without cars, are struggling to travel to bottled water distribution sites, and confusion remains about how to install and use home faucet filters. This situation will not improve until a federal court steps in to compel state and city officials to act."

"It's extremely important that improvements be made on the current recovery 'efforts' in Flint made by the City and State of Michigan," said Flint resident Melissa Mays. "Residents are still going without access to safe water. Those who do not have reliable transportation or cannot lift a 26.5 pound case of bottled water are slipping through the cracks during such a precarious and dangerous time. This must end."

Michael Steinberg, legal director of ACLU Michigan, added: "Without the court ordering the city and state government to deliver bottled water, children, the elderly and the poor in Flint will continue to struggle to find consistent access to clean, safe water. It's unconscionable that, more than two years after the public learned that the water in Flint was poisoned with lead, so many residents still don't have safe drinking water."

The injunction came as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump headed to Flint for a campaign rally, ostensibly seeking to reach out to black voters.

But Flint residents were not interested in being his photo-op, and, in fact, had a question regarding his newfound interest in the community—where the hell have you been?

Desiree Duell, a Flint mother and activist with the organization Flint Rising, said during a press conference Wednesday, "I'm here to call on Donald Trump to stop using the Flint water crisis as a prop for his campaign. Not once since the beginning of his campaign has Trump addressed the crisis, despite ample opportunity. We have been denied clean, safe water for more than two years and we want Donald Trump to know that we need a real solution to this crisis, not empty rhetoric or more of the same 'run government like a business' mentality that led to this crisis in the first place."

Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, also said, "Less than 60 days before the election and now Donald Trump rolls into town for a photo op. Give me a break. Where the hell have you been?"

Trump has vowed to slash funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the NRDC pointed out. Under a Trump administration, warned the group's Action Fund president Rhea Suh, every community could be Flint.

"Donald Trump's belated show of concern for Flint rings hollow," she said. "This is a man who wants to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and roll back our bedrock public health safeguards. In a Trump regime, every community will be a potential Flint."

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