The decision by Republican-appointed officials in Flint, Michigan to switch water sources more than a year ago led to 8,000 children under the age of 6 being exposed to lead-tainted drinking water, sparking public outrage and generating national headlines.
The crisis, which has shut off drinking water to all of Flint’s 99,000 residents, represents “the most serious contamination threat facing the country’s water supplies.” It also disproportionately impacts certain communities, underscoring decades of “environmental racism.” But, despite the outcry and obvious political ramification, it has barely registered in the GOP presidential primary.
An analysis of candidate tweets, websites, and debates conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that the candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination have largely ignored the issue.
Instead, the GOP presidential candidates have focused on deregulating the Environmental Protection Agency and have supported the efforts of Congressional Republicans to block the agency’s ability to regulate tributaries and wetlands. They have additionally pushed for austerity measures that have forced localities into the difficult position of cutting vital services.
The policies of most GOP candidates could be similarly damaging to many communities, including dozens facing similar problems with lead poisoning. Yet GOP candidates remain silent.