If You Read Only One Thing on Flint, Read This From Michael Moore

January 29th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

In the midst of a roiling public health crisis over toxic water, Michael Moore, the academy award-winning documentarian and native Flint, Michigan resident, called on public support to hold state officials there accountable, and provide a respite for struggling Flint residents.

But not necessarily in the way you might think.

Michael Moore

1. Demand Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's removal.

In an open "letter to America," the activist director implored people not to send bottled water, and instead called for them to "go to bat for the forgotten of Flint." Giving people clean water to drink is important, the letter reads, but ousting government officials that allowed for the spread of contaminated water is crucial:

"The perp who allowed the poisoning to continue once he knew something was wrong — and his minions who cooked the evidence so the public and the feds wouldn’t find out – must be removed from office ASAP. Whether it’s via resignation, recall or prosecution, this must happen now because he is still refusing to take the aggressive and immediate action needed."

Moore posted a link to a petition he started calling for the ouster of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, which now has about half a million signatures so far. Here are the first lines of the petition:

Screenshot from Moore's petition


2. Make Michigan pay, literally.

Moore criticized Snyder for being untrustworthy of distributing federal relief funds — which he said are filtered first through the governor's office, akin to "paying the fox to fix the chicken coop he destroyed." He said the state had about $1.2 billion in available surplus and "rainy day" funds to begin addressing the water infrastructure there.


3. Put the Feds in charge.

Instead of just declaring a federal emergency zone, Moore said the Obama White House needed to put its full force behind the effort to fix the Flint crisis. Multiple agencies would be needed to accomplish this, including FEMA, the CDC, the EPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin replacing the aged, lead-laden pipes from which corrosive water leaches contaminants.

Related: Michigan Officials Gave State Employees in Flint Clean Water Months Before Residents

4. Get Flint residents who want out out.

Given that Flint residents have endured contaminated water and government mishandling since April of 2014, Moore called on state officials and FEMA to help facilitate a temporary move for any Flint resident who wants out into a nearby town until the water system is fixed.

Flint River bridge

5. Create FEMA water systems in Flint residents' homes.

Donations of plastic water bottles have exploded in recent weeks. But as Moore points out, there must be more efforts for the people of Flint. For one thing, plastic bottles are an unsustainable stop-gap measure for fresh water. By his calculation, each of Flint's 102,000 requires an average of 50 gallons of water each day, meaning that based on average American water consumption, Flint residents would need about 20.4 million 16 oz. bottles of clean water every day until the crisis is fixed.

Instead, he proposes that FEMA install two 55-gallon drums in each Flint home, filled each day with water from Lake Huron.

Moore's proposals may sound extreme, but they shouldn't to anyone who has been tracking the crisis. The situation reached new depths this week, when it was revealed that the state showed more concern for the safety of its own employees than it did for the residents of Flint.

On Thursday, documents obtained by a watchdog group showed that as officials told Flint residents their tap water was safe to drink, its employees in the town were given clean water to drink many months before the state gave out bottles to residents — let alone acknowledged that the water there was indeed unsafe.

On Friday, Gov. Snyder announced that the state legislature would make available $28 million in immediate aid to Flint residents.