Michigan Governor Rick Snyder could have declared a state of emergency in Flint over its water contamination crisis months earlier than he did, according to new emails released Sunday that contradict the governor’s defense of his delayed actions.
Snyder, who declared a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County on January 5—months after acknowledging there was lead in the region’s public water supply—has repeatedly said he could not take action until local officials made a request, which Genesee County did on January 4.
However, a November 13 email sent to Snyder’s office from Michigan State Police (MSP) Captain Chris Kelenske, who also serves as the deputy state director of emergency management and homeland security, reads, “As you know, the Governor can declare at any time, for any reason.”
“The state will formally own the event if we put a Governor’s Declaration in place,” Kelenske wrote to Snyder’s deputy legal counsel, Paul Smith. “This could be viewed as the state having owned up to how the water issue was caused.”
Previously released communications suggest that Snyder told state officials to suppress lead testing results and that the governor knew the water was toxic as far back as October 2014.
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