“Failings” on Flint water crisis should trigger a look in the mirror for environmental community, says Great Lakes Attorney

“Failings” on Flint water crisis should trigger a look in the mirror for environmental community, says Great Lakes Attorney
May 17, 2017 Gary Wilson, Great Lakes Now

Demands for accountability over the Flint water crisis have reached far and wide.

But one group has escaped scrutiny and needs to do some soul-searching, according to Detroit water attorney Noah Hall.

“The environmental community has a lot of looking in the mirror to do over their short comings and failings on the Flint water crisis,” Hall told Great Lakes Now in a recent interview.

photo courtesy of Wayne State University

Noah D. Hall Associate Professor of Law, courtesy of Wayne State University

Hall is a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and founded the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. He currently serves as a Special Assistant Attorney General on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s legal task force investigating Flint.

Great Lakes Now talked with Hall in Chicago where he was a speaking at the Chicago water summit, Untrouble the Waters.

Hall points out that the environmental community had no legal obligation to get involved on Flint.

But he said that environmental law “relies on the active involvement of the professional environmental movement.” He defines that movement as advocates, researchers and journalists.

This group “largely ignored the Flint water crisis, not just as it was unfolding” Hall said, but over an 18-month period. Hall said, “The mainstream environmental groups said nothing about Flint until it was already a national issue.”

He says the Natural Resources Defense Council was an exception. NRDC petitioned the U.S. EPA to use its emergency authority to intervene (it didn’t) and it filed a citizen suit.

Hall declined to speculate why the Great Lakes environmental community did not engage on Flint.

However, he did say that the mainstream environmental movement has reached its maximum potential. If it wants to grow in influence it will have to “listen to the issues that more folks care about,” Hall said.

From GLB Bureau Chief: Here is Gary Wilson’s interview with Detroit Water Attorney Noah Hall. It was edited to delete topics unrelated to Flint. The Flint discussion is included in its entirety.


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