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EPA Chief Works To Rebuild Trust With Flint Residents

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

The new administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency was in Flint Wednesday, in part to address the agency’s battered image in the community.

Michael Regan toured a community lab where young people test the quality of water samples. The lab was set up after Flint residents grew mistrustful of claims of government agencies, including the EPA, that their lead tainted water was safe to drink.

Former top EPA officials in 2015 ignored or downplayed internal reports that showed dangerous lead levels in some Flint homes.

It took local health officials and independent scientists to prove the lead exposure was happening.   

Regan has been visiting many cities to tout the Biden administration’s ambitious infrastructure plans, while also trying to heal old wounds.

“We got to work hard to rebuild and earn the trust of the communities,” Regan told reporters, “We can’t do that sitting behind desks in Washington, D.C.”

Regan was sworn in as the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency back in March. He’s the first Black man and second person of color to lead the U.S. EPA.

Regan says transparency is important in winning back trust.

“We’re open to oversight by Congress. We’re open to oversight by all of our state partners. We’re open to oversight by community members,” says Regan. 

Regan says President Biden is committed to removing the nation’s lead service lines. Biden wants to spend tens of billions of dollars to replace lead pipes connecting millions of homes to city water mains nationwide.  

The U.S. Senate will soon take up a scaled down version of the president’s original infrastructure proposal.

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