Nestle Moves to Bottle Water in Columbia Gorge, Oregon


Activists Challenge Proposal To Bottle Water In Columbia Gorge

March 27, 2012 | OPB

Environmentalists and one of Oregon’s public sector unions are challenging the recent approval of new water permits in Cascade Locks, but controversy surrounds a proposal to bottle water in the Columbia Gorge.

The appeal comes from the “Keep Nestle Out of the Gorge” coalition. It includes environmental groups Food and Water Watch and Bark!, as well as the state and local employee union, Oregon AFSCME. The permits they are challenging are a prerequisite to a potential water exchange between the city of Cascade Locks and the state of Oregon, meant to facilitate a Nestle bottling plant. Oregon’s Water Resources Department says the challenge has to focus narrowly on harm to other water rights’ holders. But opponents, like former Multnomah County commissioner Barbara Willer, have broader objections.

“It is basically a privatization of a public natural resource –- one that humans and other species need to survive. It sets a horrible precedent that our resources are up for sale,” Miller says.

Officials in Cascade Locks defend the proposal, saying Nestle would be just another water customer—and would bring jobs and property tax revenue to the city.


Action Alert: Protest “Gateway to Opportunity” Luncheon this Thursday

Action Alert: No East-West Corridor

Protest “Gateway to Opportunity” Luncheon

this Thursday, March 29th at 11:45am,

(Canadian time, so 10:45 Maine time) 

LD 1671, An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study for an East-West Highway, was approved by the House and Senate last week.  Now it’s time to up the ante.

Cianbro President Peter Vigue and Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt are being hosted by the Town of St. Stephen to share “his vision of transportation for Maine” at a noon luncheon.  We’ll crash the party by sharing our vision of Maine without a supercorridor. Please forward widely!


Where:  405 Milltown Boulevard, St. Stephen, New Brunswick Canada at the St. Patrick’s Church Hall (link to map below)



  • Bring your passport to cross the border
  • We will protest outside.  Bring banners, signs, etc.
  • We need a video camera and MPBN will use our footage in their upcoming story.  Let me know if you can film or lend us your camera!
  • A couple of us will attend the lunch itself.  The lunch costs $20 and requires registration. I will register myself but want one more person. We can cover your cost.  Let me know ASAP.
  • If we get media coverage, we’ll need a media point person.  I’ll prep a media packet.  Let me know if you can do this.
  • Carpools.  Let’s make that happen.  I have room in my car.


Announcement in Calais Advertiser:


Link to location map:,+st.+stephen,+new+brunswick&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x4ca5f8d78728d2a5:0x81bb48610046c69c,405+Milltown+Blvd,+St+Stephen,+NB+E3L+1J3,+Canada&gl=us&ei=7J1wT4jpJuX10gHb3PWwBg&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCAQ8gEwAA


Meeting:  Our next strategy meeting is this Wednesday as 6pm at the Newport Entertainment Center in Newport.  Join us!


Contact: Chris Buchanan, 207-257-1443 or chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net


More info:

Ivy Colleges Shunning Bottled Water Jab at $22 Billion Industry

Bottled water is coming under attack on college campuses.
More than 90 schools, among them Brown University and Harvard University are banning the sale or restricting the use of plastic water bottles, unnerving the $22 billion retail packaged-water industry in the U.S. The University of Vermont is the latest to join the movement, announcing in January it would stop sales early next year.
A forklift moves bails of plastic bottles at the San Francisco Recycling Center. More than 9 billion gallons of bottled water were sold in the U.S. last year. The industry is growing 5.4 percent annually. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Discarded water bottles lay in a trash can in Washington, D.C. Students at Brown, in Providence, Rhode Island, started a campaign to reduce bottled water consumption in 2010 and more than a dozen U.S. schools have campus-wide bans on the sale of plastic water bottles. Photographer: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
Freshmen at colleges across the country are being greeted with stainless-steel bottles in their welcome packs and encouraged to use hydration stations where free, filtered water is available. Brown, which used to sell about 320,000 bottles of water a year in vending machines and campus stores, ended sales in dining halls in 2010. Harvard and Dartmouth Collegeare installing hydration stations in new buildings to reduce trash.
“The product just doesn’t make common sense,” Sarah Alexander, 20, an environmental-studies major at Hanover, New Hampshire-based Dartmouth, said by e-mail. “Companies are taking something that is freely accessible to everyone on the Dartmouth campus, packaging it in a non-reusable container and then selling it under the pretense that it is somehow better than tap water.”
In response to the growing movement, the water industry released a video on YouTube last month poking fun at “Ban the Bottle,” an organization that advocates banning one-time-use plastic water bottles. The spot, which features “Star Wars”- like music and flashbacks of antiwar demonstrations, says bottled water is a safe, convenient product that is “one of the healthiest drinks on the shelf” and that its packaging is recyclable.

‘Serious Issues’

There “are really serious issues over here, and now you’re dealing with bottled water?” Joe Doss, president of theInternational Bottled Water Association, based in Alexandria,Virginia, said in a phone interview. While “there are anti- bottled-water groups going from campus to campus,” Doss said he doesn’t consider it “a big threat” at this point.
More than 9 billion gallons of bottled water were sold in the U.S. last year, and the industry is growing 5.4 percent a year, according to Gary Hemphill, senior vice president of the Beverage Marketing Corp., a New York consulting firm. Sales to colleges and universities aren’t tracked separately.
The bottling industry may be worried about losing brand loyalty from college kids, said Eric Meliton, an industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan.
“If they lose that access, yeah, you would see a big dropoff on that demographic,” Meliton said in a phone interview. College students are “on the go, they’ve got backpacks and they may not choose to use bottled water.”

Saving Money

Reducing or eliminating plastic bottled water saves students money and has the environmental benefit of reducing the need to truck bottles across the country, Niles Barnes, project coordinator with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, said in a phone interview.
“It’s a really tangible, sustainable activity that students can get behind,” Barnes said.
Students at Brown, in Providence, Rhode Island, started a campaign in 2010 to reduce bottled water consumption and the school stopped selling it in dining halls that September. Brown holds about 50,000 bottles in reserve in case of a natural disaster or to distribute at graduation or other events, Chris Powell, director of sustainable energy and environmental initiatives, said in an interview.
“There’s an environmental impact to the waste” of disposable water bottles, Powell said. “We realized there were alternatives that we could put in place that everybody was agreeable to.”

Culture Shift

Dartmouth is trying to “shift the student culture” about purchasing bottled water, said Rosi Kerr, the school’s director of sustainability. Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, promotes a “Drink Local” initiative to reduce plastic- bottle waste.
Some departments at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard have banned the purchase of bottled water for meetings. Cornell University has a reduction campaign, as does Yale University. The University of Pennsylvania encourages administrative offices to use hydration stations rather than bottled water.
Sitting back and “doing nothing” as environmental groups campaigned to ban bottled water wasn’t an option for the water industry, the water association’s Doss said. His niece, a student at The College of Charleston, alerted him to an effort on her campus, and he said there is an “active movement” across the nation.
More than a dozen U.S. schools have campuswide bans on the sale of plastic water bottles, according to Barnes.

Sweetened Beverages

Some colleges with a history of activism have rejected bans on packaged water. The University of California, Berkeley opted against the idea on concern it would drive students toward sweetened beverages, said Trish Ratto, a university health services official. So did Columbia University, after students said they’d buy it elsewhere, according to Nilda Mesa, assistant vice president of environmental stewardship at the New York- based college.
Brown philosophy major Terrence George, 21, calls the university’s policy an “unwarranted assault” on bottled water.


To follow college campaigns against bottled water, visit:

Contact: jim justice

Thurs., March 22, 2012 , 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre, 712 S. First St., Mount Vernon, Washington

Skagit Human Rights Festival – Whose Valley is it Anyway?

Defending Water

In the spirit of assembly and free speech, Sandra Spargo of Defending Water in the Skagit River Basin will present the film TAPPED and relate the film to the contract that the City of Anacortes signed with Tethys Enterprises to build a one million square foot bottled water/beverage plant. The plant will be entitled up to five million gallons of Skagit River water per day. TAPPED examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on pollution, health and oil reliance. Water is a human right and should not be bottled and sold as a commodity to the highest bidder, like any other article of commerce. Presentation sponsors are The Alliance for Democracy, the Concrete Herald and Defending Water in the Skagit River Basin.

Listen to KSVR Radio’s interview of Kay O’Connell and Sandra Spargo about this March 22 event at Interview length is 13 minutes, followed by an interview regarding Labor, the last Human Rights Festival event on Thurs., March 29, 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.

Connections Found between East-West Highway, Canadian Fracking Fields, and Searsport LPG Tank

MAINE COMPASS: Is the east-west highway a plan to exploit Maine for energy triad?

Chris Buchanan, published 3-12-12 in the Morning Sentinel

Canada is developing natural gas fracking fields in Quebec and New Brunswick, and a liquid petroleum gas tank is proposed for Searsport.

We are concerned about whether the proposed east-west highway might be destined to become a supercorridor to transport LPG in trucks to Canada and natural gas by pipeline along the highway to the Maritime provinces for export.

The east-west highway route through Maine connects both the Canadian fracking fields adjacent to Maine, so it could be highly profitable for the investors in the east-west highway to run a natural gas pipeline along the highway. This would provide even greater returns for highway investors, in addition to tolls they would receive from Canadian transport trucks.

The proposed Searsport LPG storage facility comes into the picture because of new fracking technology developed by GasFrac, a Canadian energy company, which uses a thick gel made from propane, rather than water, to force the natural gas out of the shale rock.

LPG is a mixture of propane and butane.

“This is a game changer for the industry,” says Don LeBlanc in a November 15 article in Chemistry World. LeBlanc is the “principal consultant at Eastex Petroleum Consultants in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has been involved in shale gas trials with gelled propane in New Brunswick.”

So far gelled propane has been used about 1,000 times, mostly in Canada.

From an investor’s prospective, under this scenario, an LPG tank in Searsport is a great idea. From there, the propane can be trucked to Canada via the east-west highway to use for fracking shale gas. Then the natural gas produced by the fracking could be transported to the Canadian Maritimes via a pipeline built along the east-west highway.

Indeed, Peter Vigue of Cianbro announced his vision to use the highway as a multiuse corridor during his presentation to the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee during the public hearing on Valentine’s Day.

This larger energy scheme would benefit private investors, but lead to further exploitation of Maine as a supercorridor throughway with only two proposed exits for the whole state.

Yet the people of Maine would have no voice in how this private toll road was built or managed.

Nor would the state and federal regulatory agencies be concerned about the environmental impacts of fracking or the safety of the new technology using highly flammable propane.

This is a highly organized energy triad, poised to make a few people very wealthy at the cost of Maine’s people and the land we need to survive.

We wondered why Searsport selectmen supported the east-west highway, but now we see how the pieces can fit together in a highly profitable way.

Instead of locking Mainers into a supercorridor dissecting the state for foreign profit, our legislators need to step back and identify what the people of Maine need to thrive over the long haul.

Giving priorities to Canadian businesses and multinational corporations that do raw resource extraction is not the way. Public funding for private investment, at the added cost of individual rights and local control, is not the way.

We need to create a long-term vision that values Maine’s strengths — how we can benefit from our priceless ecological beauty and how best to use Mainers creativity, work ethic and passion to create lasting jobs for the people and families of Maine.

Chris Buchanan of Belgrade is a grassroots organizer for Defending Water for Life in Maine, a project of the Alliance for Democracy to protect water for life, not for profit, by supporting community-led initiatives. Visit www.defend

link to article:


Highway to Nowhere

by Steve Cartwright, published March 7, 2012 in the New Maine Times

Some bad ideas get buried, only to rear their ugly heads again, and a billion-dollar East-West Highway in Maine is one of them.

This shopworn proposal has been around for years and every so often some misguided legislator sees it as salvation for northern or Down East Maine.

While Canadian truckers like the idea of a shortcut through the Maine woods, it is a highway to nowhere for us. Unless it’s a scheme for trucking gas from a gigantic propane tank planned for Searsport to Canada. Propane could be used for fracking, an environmentally wasteful process that big oil uses to support our addiction to fossil fuels.

Those who want to build a new highway in Maine, like those who want to install a 15-story gas tank in Searsport, are all about making money in the short term. They want us to ignore the environmental impact or any other roadblock that would compromise potential profit. Maine’s natural environment is one of its greatest long-term assets: economically, aesthetically and for our physical and spiritual health.

If there’s one thing Maine should preserve at all costs it’s the mostly unspoiled natural environment that is our legacy to our children, and our best hope for future prosperity. It supports agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism, from backwoods camping to sailing along the coast.

Remember, it was Rumford native Ed Muskie, the former governor and U.S. senator, who successfully fought for the clean air and water acts. We now have a governor, Paul LePage, anxious to undo environmental protection, and some legislators ready to aid in that destruction.

The so-called East-West Highway could certainly benefit the Cianbro construction firm, but that is no reason to fund the study, and there seems little justification for a highway that would desecrate a wild and beautiful portion of our state.

Who needs this road? A new highway won’t change Maine’s overall economy any more than a gambling palace. There is no panacea, no magic formula for bettering our economic prospects. Beware of claims that sound too good to be true.

Cianbro, one of Maine’s most politically powerful corporations, is now courting the Legislature. Our elected representatives are being asked to authorize $300,000 to “study”  the proposed private toll road. I don’t want my tax dollars going for such a study, do you? Even if this road made sense, there is no good reason why public money should pay for a private study, biased or not.

Construction projects in Maine seem to get a life of their own, juggernauts that gather momentum from those who profit from them, becoming unstoppable.

Case in point: The huge Kennebec River bridge between Bath and Woolwich, built beside what was a perfectly serviceable bridge that must remain in place because it carries the railroad. So now we’re stuck with maintaining two bridges. Not brilliant, but bridge builders made a killing, you can be sure.

Speaking of rail, Maine already has an East-West Highway made of steel. Why don’t we invest in that? Rail is safe, secure and efficient, and way better for our natural environment than trucks careening down a highway. Maine could revive a rail system that is still in place, if our political leaders had the vision and commitment to do so.

There are many worthwhile projects and programs in our state that desperately need funding. An East-West Highway is not one of them. This proposal has no merit for Maine. It makes no sense. It is time, once again, to bury this boondoggle.

Canadian article provides more details on East-West Highway

Update 3-1-12:  This Canadian article notes concerns from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the East-West highway, and border security.  It states that the border station at Coburn Gore would need to be rebuilt.  Just more taxpayer dollars funding this private project.