The Trump administration reportedly conducted a brief review of Environmental Protection Agency grants but never ordered a “freeze” on new awards despite reports to the contrary, a spokesman said Thursday, but confusing responses from those in the administration still have not answered the question of whether or not Flint, Mich., is getting the aid it was promised.
The Detroit News reports that Doug Ericksen of the EPA transition team said that new grant awards “were never stopped, actually. Nothing was canceled. Nothing was delayed.”
As previously reported on The Root, within hours of President Donald Trump’s swearing-in Jan. 20, officials at the Environmental Protection Agency were barred from making any external communications and instructed to freeze all contracts and grants. This led to state officials in Michigan wondering how the freeze on EPA grants and contracts would affect the $100 million in funds already allocated for the Flint water crisis.
According to the News, the EPA Office of Public Affairs sent an interagency notice to Michigan and other states Tuesday saying that it would continue to award environmental-program grants and revolving-loan grants.
Legislators in Michigan are not holding their breath, however.
On Thursday, Matt Williams, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), said that the senator was “still awaiting a clear response from the Trump administration and the EPA that confirms the $100 million in funding for Flint is not impacted or delayed by the spending freeze.
“Until that occurs, this much-needed federal funding remains in jeopardy,” Williams said.
Exactly. Enough with the Orwellian newspeak. Congressional Democrats wrote a letter Tuesday and asked a direct question: Is the money for Flint affected by the new EPA directives?
They still have not received a direct answer.
In the meantime, the state of Michigan has not yet formally applied for the federal grant funding made available for Flint, but the Detroit News reports that the city completed a key step in the process this week by submitting its recommended “intended use plan” to the state Department of Environmental Quality.
DEQ spokesman Michael Shore said Thursday that the department expects to submit the official request by the end of February.
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version: Flint still does not have clean water, and there is still no scheduled remedy on the horizon.
Oh, and Ericksen told USA today that an additional $100 million in EPA grants and contracts remains under review.
Read more at the Detroit News.