In 2015, the Flint water crisis created serious health concerns in Michigan, while also creating a huge public relations scandal for Governor Rick Snyder. The public chastised Snyder for taking too long to act, while also accusing the governor of knowing all along the water supply was contaminated.
On the heels of such a crisis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo finds himself facing similar backlash and accusations for the Hoosick Falls water crisis.
Congressional Committee Opens Inquiry
Not surprisingly, the Congressional committee launched an inquiry into the matter. Both the Senate and the state Assembly intends to hold hearings, beginning in August. While the government is deeply concerned about the health effects on the population, the more disturbing allegation the media and officials grapple with involves Cuomo’s prior knowledge.
Cuomo and his administration allegedly knew the PFOA chemical had contaminated the water, but put off telling residents for more than a year.
Senator Kathy Marchione also faces bad press as a result of her response to the crisis. Though her district includes Hoosick Falls, she previously refused to hold hearings regarding the issue, for some months.
She only recently launched an inquiry into the matter, following intense backlash on social media. Her announcement followed the actions of another U.S. Senator, namely Kirsten Gillibrand, who held a listening session in Hoosick to learn more about the issue from residents.
Residents in Hoosick continue to express outrage about the way they received information of the toxin’s presence in their blood. The New York department of health mailed out the results but did not provide much in the way of support systems for residents who received the heartbreaking news. The health department, however, denies this allegation.
This has not stopped residents from posting on social media and wherever else they can make their voices heard expressing dissatisfaction and concern.
Rather than accept responsibility for the scandal, a spokesperson for Governor Cuomo passed the blame onto the EPA. In his response to a letter from the federal oversight committee, he blamed the EPA’s ever-changing guidelines and a lack of proper regulation.
The administration, however, expressed a willingness to fully cooperate with other bodies during the inquiry, mostly in an attempt to clear their name. However, the shift of blame to another department rather than apologizing for the incident is likely to rub residents the wrong way, especially in light of accusations that Cuomo knew the water was contaminated.
As Governor Cuomo continues to wash his hands of the water crisis, there’s no telling how the public will react and how this will affect his political career going forward. However, if Governor Snyder’s scandal is anything to go by, Cuomo may as well kiss any hope of rebuilding public trust in his campaign goodbye unless he figures a way to turn things around.