The Stream, January 15, 2021: Former Michigan Governor Charged Years After Flint Water Crisis


  • Former Michigan Rick Snyder will be charged with two counts of willful neglect for his role in the Flint water crisis.
  • A surge of tropical storms in India’s Sundarbans mangrove is threatening the lives of those living in the region.
  • A recent study found European colonization has sped up erosion and river sediment accumulation over the past 200 years in North America.
  • The Navajo Nation will receive a multi-million-dollar settlement from a mining company after a 2015 wastewater spill.

A broad coalition has petitioned the Biden administration to implement a moratorium on utility shutoffs across the United States.

“There must be a plan on what to do with arrears, or else this—just like the housing crisis—will cause a profound economic burden that disproportionately hits low-income families and people of color.” – Elizabeth R Marx, from the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project. A coalition of over 600 environmental rights and religious groups are urging the Biden administration to impose a nationwide ban on utility shutoffs for at least 12 months after the pandemic ends, The Guardian reports. The request comes as states across the United States are lifting moratoria on water and energy shutoffs while Covid-19 cases and deaths are rising exponentially, despite evidence that shutoffs only contribute to infection rates.

In context:


Four International Water Stories to Watch in 2021 – River basin conflicts, Covid-19 recovery, and climate will mark the year.

Grape Crop Brings in Millions, but Farm Workers Live a Harsh Life – Vineyards well watered, while people struggle for water.

A Surge In Tropical Storms In The Sundarbans Threatens The Lives of Locals

Research from an international team of scientists is predicting a large reduction in terrestrial water storage (TWS) in two-thirds of the world due to climate change, Michigan State University reports. TWS is the accumulation of water in snow and ice, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, wetlands, soil and groundwater. The new study, published in Nature Climate Change, is based on 27 global climate simulations over a 125-year period.


40,000 YEARS 

A recent study found that over the past 200 years, human activity in North America has increased erosion rates and river sediment accumulation by a factor of 10. Eos reports that an international team of researchers analyzed 40,000 years of accumulated river sediment from sites across North America. The study concluded that the rapid increase of agriculture and people due to European colonization moved as much material in the past century as would be moved by natural processes in 700 to 3,000 years. The trend of  faster than expected accumulation rates was widespread throughout North America, the study found. The researchers said they hope their findings can help inform modern soil and water conservation efforts in the future.


Sunnyside Gold Corp will pay the Navajo Nation $10 million under a new settlement between the tribe and the state of New Mexico to resolve a 2015 spill that contaminated rivers through 200 miles (322 km) of Navajo lands with arsenic, lead and other heavy metals. Al Jazeera reports that the spill released 3 million gallons (11 million liters) of wastewater from the inactive Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado. Other claims in relation to the spill, including some against the EPA, are still pending.


The Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed two charges of willful neglect of duty against former Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis. Both charges stem from an alleged offense on the day Flint began using Flint River water as its new water source in 2014. Each charge is considered a  misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine of $1000 or less, but criminal law attorneys said the length of time that has passed could make convicting Snyder a challenge.

In context: Years After Flint Water Crisis, Lead Lingers in School Buildings

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