"State regulators and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional office in Chicago would have acted differently if this water crisis had taken place in a white suburb of Detroit," he wrote.
"In studying the history of environmental justice, you see over and over that it generally takes longer for poor communities to be heard when they make complaints. Government officials received complaints in April 2014 expressing that something was wrong with the water in Flint. If regulators at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had had to drink that water, or serve it to their children, their response would have been different," he added.
"Everybody knows that this would not have happened in predominantly white Michigan cities like West Bloomfield, or Grosse Pointe, or Ann Arbor," Moore writes. "Everybody knows that if there had been two years of taxpayer complaints, and then a year of warnings from scientists and doctors, this would have been fixed in those towns."
The move was immediately met with outrage among city and state residents, who say the people of Flint should not have to pay for the water that may have exposed them and their loved ones to irreversible lead poisoning.
"They have irreparably harmed children and families by poisoning the water," Lonnie Scott, executive director for Progress Michigan, told Common Dreams. "It is ludicrous that they would even consider sending shut-off notices."
"All arrears should be cleared," Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, told Detroit Free Press on Monday. "No one should have to pay for this."
The city has already been rebuked for dramatically—and suddenly—hiking water rates 35 percent in 2011. A Genesee circuit court judge ruled in August that this hike was unlawful and ordered an injunction.
The city has been blindsided by GM’s strategy of profit maximization, as the company shifted tens of thousands of jobs to the South, West, and beyond, in order to avoid unionized workers. Of the 80,000 GM jobs once located in Flint, some 8,000 remain, while unemployment is double the national average and poverty hovers at 40 percent of the population.
At the same time, the city has seen state interest wane as its demographics have shifted as a result of white flight and regional impoverishment. And while state officials have now recognized the city’s water problem, little has been said about its shuttered schools, lack of safety or grim poverty statistics.