KEY NEWS & DOCUMENTS:
Flint Residents Return to Court to Press State to Take Emergency Action
CHICAGO–As Michigan ignores a court order requiring “immediate” action to secure safe drinking water for Flint, residents and organizations filed an emergency motion to force the state of Michigan and city of Flint to comply. The court has ordered the state and city to respond to this motion by noon on December 23.
Forty days after Judge David Lawson issued a preliminary injunction intended to alleviate the lead drinking water crisis, the state and city have not complied. Nor do they appear to have any intention to do so, according to the motion filed today. Yet it remains undisputed that unfiltered tap water remains unsafe, despite tests showing Flint tap water may be improving.
“Enough is enough. The state has thumbed its nose at the people of Flint by taking away their local democracy and poisoning their water more than two years ago. Now the state is essentially thumbing its nose at a federal judge by ignoring a court order issued six weeks ago to either deliver bottled water to residents or verify that they have working water filters. The people of Flint are desperate for clean water and cannot afford any more delays,” said Michael J. Steinberg, Legal Director of the ACLU of Michigan.
“The state and city’s dislike for a federal court order does not give them license to ignore it,” said Henry Henderson, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Midwest Program. “It is winter in Flint, and tracking down drinking water in the bone-chilling cold makes life harder for all. We’re asking the court to take emergency action to ensure safe water is available for every person in Flint, immediately,” said Henderson.
The preliminary injunction issued on November 10 ordered the state and city to “immediately” ensure that every Flint resident has either a properly installed and maintained filter or bottled water delivery. According to status reports the state and city submitted to Judge Lawson on December 16, they have not complied with the injunction. For example, they have failed to verify filter installation in many − let alone most – homes, have not expanded their limited water delivery program, and had not mailed a public notice required by the court nearly six weeks ago.
Plaintiffs in the case Concerned Pastors for Social Action v. Khouri requested that the court order the state and city to take additional steps to address the ongoing irreparable harms to Flint residents, including expanding hours of filter installation and maintenance services; immediately beginning delivery of bottled water to each household without a verified, working filter; and providing a status report to the court by January 5 describing how they intend to fully comply with the preliminary injunction.
Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Flint resident Melissa Mays, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the ACLU of Michigan filed for a preliminary injunction as part of a case brought under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.