Oregon House Passes Columbia River Treaty Bill

By

Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) carried HB 3491A on the Floor of the House last Thursday, where it was passed unanimously. House Bill 3491A, drafted by Rep. Bentz, directs the Governor to report to the Oregon Legislative Assembly on discussions relating to the Columbia River Treaty. Reports from the Governor are required every 90 days beginning this September.

The Columbia River Treaty is an agreement between the United States and Canada under which Canada constructed and operates three dams in Canada for power generation and flood control and under which the U.S. constructed and operates a dam in Montana for the same purpose. The U.S. and Canada share the power benefits produced from Canadian water storage.

According to the bill’s supporters, December 31st of 2013, a critical date for the Columbia River Treaty is fast approaching. If Canada or the U.S. decided to withdraw from the Treaty, a 10-year notice of such termination could be given by either party in 2014.

HB 3491A provides the legislature with the opportunity to follow and monitor the negotiations and their impact on Oregon.

“The Columbia River Treaty is hugely important to Oregon,” Rep. Bentz said. “Terminated, renegotiated, or left as is, there are significant and direct consequences for our state. Changes in responsibility for flood control, the timing of the flow of water to Oregon, and many other important issues are all on the negotiating table. It is absolutely essential that Oregon fully engage in these discussions and decisions regarding the Columbia River Treaty.”

Rep. Bentz previously urged his colleagues in the House to support HB 3491A when it was heard in his House Committee on Energy and Environment on April 16th. It passed out of Committee unanimously.

“The dams in the Columbia River Basin (made possible by the Treaty) have saved Portland from devastating floods and resulting loss of life. However, allocation of the responsibility for flood control could damage small towns such as Richland, Halfway, and Ontario. Consequences such as these, not to mention the cost of “new” stored water, make this process meaningful to much of our state. We must be involved and invested in this process.”

Source:  http://www.albanytribune.com/29042013-oregon-house-passes-columbia-river-treaty-bill/

Tualatin Valley Water District ordinance requires public vote on Willamette plan

The Tualatin Valley Water District‘s newly adopted plan to tap into the Willamette River as the district’s need for water grows would require a public vote to move forward.

The district’s board of commissioners voted 4-0 Wednesday to select the Willamette as its long-term water source. The district would partner with Hillsboro, which voted to adopt the same long-term strategy in February.

The two agencies plan to build a water treatment plant in Wilsonville and a pipeline to transport the water to Washington County. The project could be implemented by 2025.

However, a 2001 water district ordinance states that the district will not provide its customers with Willamette River water unless an election is held on the issue.

For the project to move forward, the district would either need to hold an election or repeal the ordinance, said Todd Heidgerken, manager of community and intergovernmental relations for the district.

Up until last week’s vote, the district’s focus was on which long-term strategy it would adopt, not on the details of implementing the strategy, Heidgerken said.

The cost of holding an election and potential election dates were not factored into the district’s evaluation, he said. The Tualatin Valley Water District projected its part of the Willamette project cost to be $408.3 million.

Elections can cost between 75 cents and $1 per voter, according to the Washington County Elections Division.

The district serves more than 200,000 residents in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard and unincorporated Washington County. Its service population is expected to grow by more than 100,000 by 2050.

— Nicole Friedman

Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2013/04/tualatin_valley_water_district_3.html

Tualatin Valley Water District selects Willametter River as future water source

By Nicole Friedman, The Oregonian
on April 24, 2013 at 9:04 PM, updated April 25, 2013 at 2:40 PM

The Tualatin Valley Water District voted 4-0 Wednesday to tap the Willamette River as the district’s need for water grows in the next 30 years and beyond.

 

The district will partner with Hillsboro, which voted in February to adopt the same long-term strategy for water supply.

 

The two agencies plan to build a water treatment plant in Wilsonville and a pipeline to transport the water to Washington County.

 

The plan could be implemented by 2025. The Tualatin Valley Water District expects its portion of the cost to be $408.3 million.

 

The district currently gets water from the Joint Water Commission, the Portland Water Bureau and its own aquifer storage and recovery well.

 

Water rates will go up when the district expands its capacity, but planning so far in advance could reduce sudden rate increases, Mark Knudson, the district’s chief engineer, said at the board meeting.

 

In 2007, the district voted to collaborate with other agencies to raise the Scoggins Dam and expand Hagg Lake to expand its long-term water supply. Although the district is still committed to that plan, the project will not be completed in time to meet the district’s needs as its service population grows.

 

The other option under consideration was to buy more water from Portland and build a pipeline from the Powell Butte Reservoir. However, the district would not have ownership rights over Portland’s water, as it would over the water drawn from the Willamette. The Portland option was projected to cost about $370.7 million.

 

The district staff’s most recent evaluation comparing the Willamette and Portland options rated the Willamette option as “more resilient” in eight of 12 categories, including seismic event risk and operations and maintenance costs.

 

Portland was considered more resilient only in the schedule category. The two options were considered equal in capital costs, political risk and regional economy changes.

 

The district serves more than 200,000 residents in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard and unincorporated Washington County. Its service population is expected to grow by more than 100,000 by 2050.

 

The district’s current peak water demand is 49.5 million gallons a day, but it expects a peak demand of 72 million gallons a day by 2050.

 

“This decision tonight, if properly implemented, will enhance the control that this region has over its future,” said Commissioner Richard Burke. “I will be very happy to drink Willamette River water.”

— Nicole Friedman

Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2013/04/tualatin_valley_water_district_2.html

Just Say No to Multinationals? For Rural Communities, It’s Not Always That Simple

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:00 By Alissa Bohling, Truthout

The people of economically depressed Cascade Locks, Oregon, are divided about a proposal by Nestle to go into business with the city to extract spring water from its cherished watershed, bringing jobs and sorely needed revenue.

 

Nestle Water North America’s makeshift office in Cascade Locks, Oregon, is two doors down from the post office. Most people on their way to get their mail on a rainy Thursday morning at the end of February pass the same tableau, if they bother to look. And they might not have looked, because so many of the storefronts in Cascade Locks are empty these days, have been for years. But framed in one of the twin picture windows of the building he shares with a vacant ice cream parlor is Dave Palais, behind his desk in a plaid shirt, communing diligently with his computer, looking for all the world like a still life and nothing like the storm cloud of multinational doom he could be said to symbolize in certain environmentalist circles.

 

For a few days every couple of weeks, Palais makes the seven-hour trip from Redding, California, on business for Nestle, where he works as a natural resource manager. Cascade Locks, about 40 miles east of Portland in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, has a lot of natural resources: salmon in the Columbia River (where dams have cut their habitat by more than half), timber on the craggy hills unfolding from Mount Hood 50 miles away, to the cliffs backdropping the town (where the logging industry all but died decades ago) and water that melts off the slopes of the mountain and flows into town in creeks known for their excellent fishing and hiking.

 

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Palais and the Nestle Company – purveyor of Pellegrino, Perrier and 10 other brands of bottled water – are here for Oxbow Springs, which flows onto a mossy tumble of rocks above a fish hatchery a few miles out of town. But before that water can be sealed in a plastic bottle and slapped with a label (“Arrowhead ® Brand 100% Mountain Spring Water”), there are three legal challenges to face, all compliments of environmental organizations Bark, and Food and Water Watch. The legal hurdles are expected to delay a proposal by the company for two or three years, if they don’t kill it altogether.

 

The challenges stem from an unconventional proposal that Nestle, the city and the state’s business development agency put to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) back in 2009.  Nestle is proposing to gain access to the spring via a water exchange with Cascade Locks. Through the exchange, the city would supply the state hatchery with municipal well water in exchange for about five percent of the spring’s volume, which the city would in turn sell to Nestle.

 

ODFW tends not to dabble in trade – it’s got its hands full raising the next generation of endangered salmon, for starters – but the state’s former governor said it should go ahead and look into the deal; jobs are jobs, and Cascade Locks needs them. And about that municipal water? Nestle would buy it too, to market under its Pure Life brand. Nothing in the deal has been finalized, and the environmental challenges get pretty technical; suffice it to say that selling public water to a private company is not as popular with conservationists as it is with Nestle, which managed to pull in over $4 billion with its 2010 bottled water sales.

 

Considering the vocal opposition that has rallied over the years, Palais’ office is remarkably quiet. Maybe that’s because much of the pushback is unfolding silently in briefs being filed before the administrative law judge expected to hear the first challenge in June. And maybe it’s because much of the opposition is from outside Cascade Locks.

 

Palais says nearly 90 percent of the town’s residents want his company to set up shop here. He admits it’s a ballpark number, and what he says next would sound like standard PR, except that it’s also true: “They’re extremely frustrated that outside activists are trying to control this.” Maybe not everyone, and maybe not 90 percent – but yes, they are. In the words of one local person, “The people who are opponents are from Portland, and that really pisses everybody in this town off.”

 

Rich in Resources, Economically Poor

 

Martha La Mont has worked hard to improve the Cascade Locks food bank since she moved to town four years ago from Southern California after retiring from a career in real estate. She’s proud that people can now get milk and eggs with their monthly supplies, and her no-nonsense manner waxes almost ecstatic over a recent donation of olive oil and top-shelf jelly. She’s got plenty of energy left over to say what she thinks of the out-of-towners who oppose the Nestle project. “How about each of you fork over $5,000 a year and then we can take Nestle away?” said La Mont. “We’ve got people here who need food.”

 

Nestle has been criticized for targeting economically depressed rural communities, and Cascade Locks certainly fits the bill. In the town of about 1,150, the unemployment rate was reported at 16 percent this year. Over 50 families use the local food bank while others travel the 20 interstate miles to another one in more prosperous Hood River. In 2009, fewer than 10 percent of adults had four-year college degrees, less than half of the state average. The municipal government is desperate for revenue. The chief of the city’s fire department resigned in 2011 from his post as the sole paid staff member in the wake of cuts to the department’s budget and his salary; now, a single paramedic does double duty as fire chief while the rest of the department remains volunteer. The city’s museum and youth recreation programs were recently put on indefinite hold. The town’s main street is checker-boarded with empty storefronts. Its volunteer mayor also works as a riverboat captain, park maintenance person and ski lift operator, depending on the season.

 

Tom Cramblett was elected to the mayoral seat in January after five years on the City Council. He’s lived in Cascade Locks all his life, and he remembers it as a different town before the 1988 closure of the sawmill that sat on part of the oak-dotted swathe of land that is the town’s mostly vacant industrial park, where Nestle would build its bottling plant. The mill closed along with hundreds of others around the country in the wake of new protections for wildlife habitat and was key in funding the city’s power, sewer, water and cable services. Nestle says it would create about 50 jobs, and the city estimates the operation would add about $50 million in property tax and utility fee revenue to Cascade Locks’ current budget of $70 million.

 

While Cascade Locks’ dire economic straits may be convenient for Nestle, the town’s draw for the company is also a matter of basic logistics.

 

“The good spring water is out in the rural regions,” says Palais. At the fish hatchery just below Oxbow Spring where Nestle wants to build its pipeline, fish outnumber people by the hundreds. (The spring also happens to emerge mere feet from the national forest boundary, where Nestle would have been subject to a stricter set of environmental regulations.) It pours from a mossy concrete block in silver ribbons flashing underneath a crown of white spray. Sipped from a cupped hand it tastes slightly metallic and more like air than water. The hatchery is deserted at the lunch hour, and a buzzer sounds across the property in time with the ring of an unattended phone, overtaking the sound of the miniature waterfalls feeding the runways where fish dart back and forth.

 

Hatcheries can be a divisive topic in conservation circles, where some maintain the operations are a Band-aid for more systemic problems like dams and pollution, and studies have raised questions about genetic viability. But, at least for these fish, they seem to be a good thing. The bigger fish are silver-blue, and they swim fast, scattering and disappearing, turning turquoise when the light is right. The younger ones are a duller color and they move like they’re just waking up, their short bodies barely bending. ODFW says it will only go through with the exchange if it’s best for the fish, and there’s been talk that the swap could supply the agency with extra water in the summer and allow it to raise more sockeye, one of the most stressed species of the embattled salmon populations.

 

An Easier Place to Raise Fish Than People?

 

Back in town, Cassie Madrid answers the door with her 1-year-old. The rainbow-lettered banner from his birthday party still hangs behind the television. Marcos Madrid flips through a catalogue, expertly ignoring the dog growling under the couch. He and his wife are hospitable and easygoing, warning visitors to watch their step on the rain-slick ramp up to the entrance of their trailer home. They say raising their children in Cascade Locks has been a slippery prospect, too. Marcos was laid off around the holidays when the pub he worked for came under new ownership, and Cassie, who cooked for two years at the local drive-through and another restaurant across the Columbia River in Washington State, is enrolled in a class for job-seekers.

 

Marcos loved Cascade Locks when Cassie took him to see where she spent her summers growing up. He’s an ex-gang member, and he liked the idea of raising his kids away from the city life that cut his childhood short. But since the high school closed in 2009, and the middle school followed the next year, graduating elementary school here means an interstate commute to class. Plus there’s that hold on the youth recreation program.

 

The Madrids say drugs are a problem with young people here in a way they weren’t when Cassie was young, and they blame the lack of opportunities and sheer boredom. Cassie has no qualms about snatching cigarettes straight out of the mouths of other people’s kids when she catches them smoking, but she’s not waiting around for her own to pick up the habit.

 

The Madrids plan to move as soon as they can. While they’re not exactly apathetic about the Nestle project, their take on the debate, which has risen and fallen in time with the slow march of public meetings since Nestle approached city leaders in 2008, is on the dispassionate side. “I have nothing against it,” Cassie says evenly. If small towns had diplomats, she would make a good one. Bottled water sounds a lot better to her than a casino, another candidate for industry in town that ultimately fell flat, but not before years of false hope for a cash infusion and worries from people like Cassie, who feared it would bring prostitution and a hard-partying clientele.

 

When her daughter calls from her after-school program, Cassie answers her phone on the first ring; she needs her mom’s help filling in the blanks on her family tree project. Growing up, Cassie says, she only had to go as far as the grocery store to be introduced to another long-lost relative, but things are different now. At least her daughter seems to like the after-school thing, and what kid wouldn’t love to build a robot out of a toothbrush like she did last week? But besides that, “There’s nothing for them to fall back on,” Cassie says, shaking her head for the sake of her own kids and everyone else’s. It’s easy to follow the dismissive wave of her hand out the window, where playing outside looks pretty unappealing as the rain pours down in sheets.

 

Cascade Locks gets over 75 inches of rain a year. (By comparison, nearby Portland averages 39 inches annually.) The impressive number is not lost on Mayor Cramblett: “What we feel good about is that we have an abundance of water. There’s a lot of places in the world that are hurting for that, and they’re fighting over that.” So as far as the Nestle proposal goes, “We look at it as a way to help people out with their water issues.” Cassie also figures all that water could do some good closer to home. After all, Nestle is already showing its support for the community. At the going-away party she attended for the two women who staffed the suspended youth recreation program, the company made sure everyone had enough bottled water to drink.

 

In a small town, a little corporate goodwill goes a long way. Martha La Mont says Nestle has donated $3,000 to the food bank in the past two years. In 2009 and 2010, according to a company fact sheet, the company gave $3,500 to the Port of Cascade Locks for a tourism festival, another thousand dollars or so to sailing organizations, plus close to 20,000 bottles of water for local sporting events.

 

Cause for Skepticism

 

The company is clearly good for a few grand here and there. But Kate Stuart is not impressed.  “All we’re going to get out of this is one large water customer and the taxes,” she says. “I think we should get more from a multinational corporation.”

 

Stuart moved to town from Sonoma County six years ago. Her group of friends first came together to organize against the casino, and now they have their eye on Nestle.

 

Stuart is a lively skeptic and the fleece bandana wrapped around her head seems like the only thing holding her features on her face as they dance in time with the argument she’s mapping out at a diner booth overlooking the Columbia River.

 

The waterway is basically an interstate for barges and the trains that run on the banks on both sides, but from this height it’s easy to imagine it’s pristine.

 

“I have breast cancer, so I obviously have a reason not to like plastic,” says Stuart. But the fact that the illness she’s spent nine years battling has been linked to certain plastics by some studies is more of an addendum to another concern: “I don’t like water leaving watersheds.”

 

The Oregon law placing strict limitations on removing state waters from their basin of origin acknowledges that messing with a natural water network can be risky for ecosystems. Now environmental groups say the state is endangering the Herman Creek watershed that feeds both Oxbow Spring and the municipal well.

 

“We don’t know what a sustainable long-term withdrawal [from the municipal well] looks like for Cascade Locks,” says Food & Water Watch’s Julia DeGraw. She said the amount of well water Nestle plans to pump was even redacted from the documents the government provided in response to a public records request about the proposal. Without more details, who knows? If the aquifer is drained too low, says DeGraw, “the Columbia could infiltrate the groundwater system.”

 

As far as the spring water, DeGraw says the swap would set a “dangerous precedent” by creating a “de facto partnership” between the state and Nestle. ODFW makes a point of emphasizing that its agreement to consider trading water with Cascade Locks is between the two governments and does not include Nestle. But DeGraw isn’t swayed by the technicality; ultimately, she says, the deal would “give away public water resources for a water bottling company’s gain.”

 

In the inexact science of local word of mouth, the pro- and anti-Nestle camps split down a line between dyed-in-the wool old-timers and relative newcomers like Stuart. But on the subject of kids, she doesn’t sound that different from Cassie Madrid. She has a protective streak, and she makes a point of keeping friendly tabs on the young people in town. “It makes me feel like everybody’s kids are just a little bit of mine,” she says, her eyes for once leaving her notebook to look down at the river. “I don’t know what we’re going to leave them.”

 

Privatizing Water on a Warming Planet

 

Olivia Schmidt with Bark, the organization joining Food & Water Watch on the legal challenges to the water swap and the wider campaign against Nestle, shares Stuart’s concern. “Selling off access to clean water resources is absolutely not what we need to be doing from a public policy perspective at a time when we have begun to feel the effects of climate change in the Pacific Northwest,” says Schmidt. “That’s like a small island in the South Pacific saying, ‘Well, the water isn’t drowning us now, so we’re going to be fine forever’ – and now those communities are all climate refugees. It’s irresponsible to be looking at what’s happening right now without looking at the population growth that’s going to be happening in this area because of this climate change.” A 2012 report by Oregon’s transportation agency acknowledged that some of the state’s projected population increase is expected to come from people fleeing areas more vulnerable to drought and other climate change impacts.

 

But some things have a way of focusing the mind on surviving the present, and poverty and unemployment make the top of the list. Palais says bottling plant jobs will pay in the upper half of the wage scale for similar jobs in the region. That sounds good to Debbie Gunter. Her husband has been out of work for two years since he was laid off from his job at Wal-Mart in a Portland suburb about 40 miles away, where he worked the 3-to-11 shift and got home around 1 AM. That was hard, and then gas prices went up. And Gunter is a little more familiar than she’d like to be with the city’s funding challenges. A health problem caught up with her during a gap in emergency services that followed the fire chief’s resignation. Despite her medication and a new Jazzercise regimen, she found herself in need of an ambulance. The closest one took 45 minutes to get to her from across the river in Washington. Gunter says she almost died. These days, the Gunters are considering a move to Portland.

 

People stay in Cascade Locks for a reason. Property is relatively cheap, and the landscape is stunning. The river has earned a reputation as a world-class sailing destination, and a hiking trail that stretches from the Mexican border all the way to Canada runs right through town. The Outdoor Industry Foundation estimates that outdoor recreation contributes $4.6 billion in revenue via retail and service statewide and supports 73,000 Oregon jobs, but Cascade Locks isn’t seeing enough of that money. The town’s tourism council is trying to change that, but efforts like a new mountain biking trail and extending the beach near the sailing club are works in progress with no clear payoff yet. “Things are getting tougher here; it’s not getting better,” says La Mont. “I think too many people were planning on that casino.” So maybe it’s not surprising that the campaign groups like Bark and Food & Water Watch are waging against Nestle is regarded with some suspicion. “It becomes a fundraiser for them just as the casino became a fundraiser for organizations that didn’t like casinos,” says Cramblett.

 

Bark and Food & Water Watch both say that’s not true. (In fact, Bark’s internal bylaws forbid taking public positions solely for fundraising purposes.) And while Food & Water Watch might not be putting 50 jobs on the table, DeGraw says her organization does have something to offer low-income communities. “In Oregon and throughout the US, we have been very involved in the movement to increase public investment in water infrastructure, which benefits low-income consumers who are often hit the hardest when water systems fall into disrepair and who often cannot afford the very water that’s being pumped from the ground and sold back to consumers at an exorbitant markup.” Nestle says most of its bottled water is sold in multipacks that pencil out to about 22 cents a bottle, but the company has come under fire for trying to strike deals like one that ultimately failed in McCloud, California, in which it would have bought water for .000081 cents per gallon.

 

Cascade Locks officials are still poring over science and case studies while they wait for the state side of the deal to shake out. “I admit Nestle is one of those things that to us seems like a no-brainer, but obviously in this world, nothing’s a no-brainer anymore,” says Cramblett. “We’re trying to attract people but it seems like every time we attract somebody, it’s the wrong person.”

 

His words go to the heart of the struggle of many rural and small town communities, which must often choose between welcoming a corporate giant in exchange for modest or meager jobs or fighting an increasingly difficult battle to survive. Cramblett’s father was a hunter, trapper and fisherman from Cascade Locks; he even foraged for cascara bark, an ingredient in natural medicine. There’s nothing new about counting on the land for a living in a place like this, but in a globalized era, the line between subsistence and exploitation has come into sharper focus – even for those who would rather look away.  (That isn’t lost on Nestle: The glossy info packets overflowing the table at the front of Palais’ office are an object lesson in sustainability-as-selling-point: “Our second generation Eco-Shape bottle uses 25 percent less plastic than the previous Eco-shape bottle”; “The amount we use is far less than the water needed to produce other beverages, such as beer and soft drinks.”)

 

But Schmidt is not convinced. “When white settlers came into the Pacific Northwest, it was really well-forested, and now, it’s not,” she says. “If our policymakers are subsidizing this kind of extractive development, we need them to shift; we need them to focus on other things than making it easier to take our resources,” she says. “Part of getting us as a global community moving toward that direction is being a stopgap toward extraction.”

Source: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/13e3df31f933e564?compose=13e3d42dd205f2f5

Nestle Chairman says Water is Not a Human Right

Link to Article with Video

In a candid interview for the documentary We Feed the World, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck makes the astonishing claim that water isn’t a human right. He attacks the idea that nature is good, and says it is a great achievement that humans are now able to resist nature’s dominance. He attacks organic agriculture and says genetic modification is better.

Nestlé is the world’s biggest bottler of water. Brabeck claims – correctly – that water is the most important raw material in the world. However he then goes on to say that privatisation is the best way to ensure fair distribution. He claims that the idea that water is a human right comes from “extremist” NGOs. Water is a foodstuff like any other, and should have a market value.

He believes that the ultimate social responsibility of any Chairman is to make as much profit as possible, so that people will have jobs.

And just to underline what a lovely man he is, he also thinks we should all be working longer and harder.

Consequences of water privatisation

The consequences of water privatisation have been devastating on poor communities around the world. In South Africa, where the municipal workers’ union SAMWU fought a long battle against privatisation, there has been substantial research (pdf) about the effects. Water privatisation lead to a massive cholera outbreak in Durban in the year 2000.

The Nestlé boycott

Nestlé already has a very bad reputation among activists. There has been a boycott call since 1977. This is due to Nestlé’s aggressive lobbying to get women to stop breastfeeding – which is free and healthy – and use infant formula (sold by Nestlé) instead. Nestlé has lobbied governments to tell their health departments to promote formula. In poor countries, this has resulted in the deaths of babies, as women have mixed formula with contaminated water instead of breastfeeding.

Tell Nestlé they are wrong – water is a human right

There is Europe-wide campaign to tell the European Commission that water is a human right, and to ask them to enact legislation to ensure this is protected.

If you live in Europe, please sign the petition.

Original article published by Union Solidarity International.

Nestle chairman says water is not a human right

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In a candid interview for the documentary We Feed the World, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck makes the astonishing claim that water isn’t a human right. He attacks the idea that nature is good, and says it is a great achievement that humans are now able to resist nature’s dominance. He attacks organic agriculture and says genetic modification is better.

Nestlé is the world’s biggest bottler of water. Brabeck claims – correctly – that water is the most important raw material in the world. However he then goes on to say that privatisation is the best way to ensure fair distribution. He claims that the idea that water is a human right comes from “extremist” NGOs. Water is a foodstuff like any other, and should have a market value.

He believes that the ultimate social responsibility of any Chairman is to make as much profit as possible, so that people will have jobs.

And just to underline what a lovely man he is, he also thinks we should all be working longer and harder.

Consequences of water privatisation

The consequences of water privatisation have been devastating on poor communities around the world. In South Africa, where the municipal workers’ union SAMWU fought a long battle against privatisation, there has been substantial research (pdf) about the effects. Water privatisation lead to a massive cholera outbreak in Durban in the year 2000.

The Nestlé boycott

Nestlé already has a very bad reputation among activists. There has been a boycott call since 1977. This is due to Nestlé’s aggressive lobbying to get women to stop breastfeeding – which is free and healthy – and use infant formula (sold by Nestlé) instead. Nestlé has lobbied governments to tell their health departments to promote formula. In poor countries, this has resulted in the deaths of babies, as women have mixed formula with contaminated water instead of breastfeeding.

Tell Nestlé they are wrong – water is a human right

There is Europe-wide campaign to tell the European Commission that water is a human right, and to ask them to enact legislation to ensure this is protected.

Source: 

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http://keithpp.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/nestle-chairman-says-water-is-not-a-human-right/

Eagle Point man sentenced to 90 days’ jail for three ponds

MEDFORD — A man who’s been battling Oregon water managers for more than a decade over three fishing ponds dammed up on his rural Jackson County property has been sent to jail for 90 days.

 

A judge said Monday that Gary Harrington, 65, has been flouting the law in his attempts to keep storing runoff that state law allocates to the Medford Water Commission.

“Most people, when caught in a criminal act, at least promise not to do the act again,” Judge Lorenzo Mejia said.

He said Harrington has had ample time to drain the ponds as he was ordered to do after he was convicted last year of illegally diverting the water. The judge gave him until April 29 to report to jail.

In a courtroom packed with Harrington’s supporters, Mejia dismissed as a sham Harrington’s claim that he’d transferred the property to a private membership association.

Harrington continues to live on and manage the property, but he told the judge, “My wife and I are done with the ponds.”

The ponds are behind dams ranging up to 20 feet tall. One pond is 13 feet deep and nearly an acre in size. They block channels that flow into Big Butte Creek. Harrington says they were created to fight fires, but they are stocked with fish and have boat docks on the banks.

A 1925 law gives the Medford commission ownership of the water in the creek and its tributaries, the core of the city’s municipal water supply.

Harrington was first convicted of taking water without a permit in 2002 and has maintained that the law doesn’t apply to the rainwater and snowmelt on the 172-acre property near Eagle Point.

— The Associated Press

Source:  http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2013/04/eagle_point_man_sentenced_to_9.html

 

Judge Signs Agreement Requiring EPA To Get Tougher On Oregon’s Water Temperature Standards For Fish

Posted on Friday, April 12, 2013 (PST)

A Portland-based federal judge on Wednesday signed an agreement between The Northwest Environmental Advocates and the federal government that requires more rigorous oversight of Oregon’s setting of water temperature standards for the state’s rivers and streams.

The agreement, between the NWEA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, comes after the court ruled in favor of NWEA’s challenge to numerous aspects of Oregon’s water quality standards under the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit is the second time NWEA has successfully challenged EPA’s approval of Oregon’s temperature standards.

“For 20 years Oregon has tried – and repeatedly failed – to put standards in place that protect salmon, steelhead, and bull trout,” said NWEA Executive Director Nina Bell. “We hope that the court’s order will usher in a new day in which the State of Oregon and the federal agencies take seriously their obligations to protect these threatened and endangered species from

the most widespread pollution problem in Oregon: high water temperatures.”

“This case is important for Oregon water quality and salmon but it also has important national implications,” said Allison LaPlante, staff attorney with the Earthrise Law Center at Portland’s Lewis and Clark College (formerly the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center), one of NWEA’s lawyers on the case.

“Importantly, the court ruled that EPA could not allow Oregon to essentially exempt the very human activities – logging and farming – that are causing high water temperatures across the state.”

Among the provisions the court struck down was EPA’s approval of an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality rule that allowed the agency to automatically replace its other criteria with temperatures it deems “natural,” without any subsequent federal agency review. A provision widely used by DEQ, it has generated temperatures as high as 32 degrees C (90 F), compared to the 18 C (64° F) numeric criterion that the court found was, while high, acceptable for fish.

“We are very pleased the court has vacated provisions that allowed Oregon to automatically change its water quality standards to temperatures clearly unsafe for fish,” said Dan Mensher, an attorney with Earthrise. “Those provisions made a mockery of the law, of common sense, and of the science that shows that salmon and steelhead need cold water, not temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.”

EPA agreed to take action on the rules within four months. It also agreed to review an Oregon DEQ guidance document that allegedly shows how Oregon will implement federal requirements intended to protect clean water from becoming more polluted.

In an order signed in January, the court approved an agreement between the parties that allowed Oregon DEQ to remove the provisions in its rules that exempt the major sources of temperature pollution from the standards. Oregon must complete that rulemaking by June or face an EPA action on those provisions.

The January order also directed EPA, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to analyze the temperature standards under the ESA. The federal agencies have roughly two years to complete those actions.

The January order set aside NMFS and USFWS ESA “biological opinions” and accompanying “incidental take statements” on the effects on listed species from EPA’s approval of Oregon’s temperature water quality standards. It ordered that the BiOps be redone, requiring that EPA complete a biological evaluation within nine months.

That evaluation would then be scrutinized by the federal fisheries agencies. The court’s January says after receipt of the EPA biological evaluations, NMFS and USFWS must produce BiOps within 14 months.

Under the ESA biological opinion formal consultation process, NMFS and USFWS determine whether a federal action, such as the approval of state water quality rules, is likely to adversely affect a listed species or critical habitat.

In this case NMFS will judge whether the water quality rules jeopardize the survival of 14 listed salmon and steelhead stocks, while the USFWS will weigh the impacts on two bull trout “designated populations segments.”

In a separate lawsuit filed in September 2012, NWEA challenged all the temperature clean-up plans developed since 2004 in which Oregon DEQ automatically changed its water quality standards from 16 to 18 degrees C to much higher temperatures. Known as Total Maximum Daily Loads or “TMDLs,” each clean-up plan invoked the provision that allowed Oregon to change its standards without federal agency review. That case is still pending.

Source: http://www.cbbulletin.com/426041.aspx

Maine: Talking points for Town Meeting on RBOs

Q: What is a sustainable energy system?

 

According to the definition of “unsustainable infrastructure” in the ordinance, the criteria for a “sustainable” infrastructure system is one that is does not threaten rights and is under COMMUNITY CONTROL.

 

Town residents – not permitting agencies – will choose which projects are acceptable.

 

Q: What is the prohibition?

 

Land acquisition for the purpose of siting and constructing the E/W within the town is illegal.

 

Corporations in violation of the ordinance cannot use their constitutional protections to override the rights and protections guaranteed to real people within the town.

 

The state cannot preempt the ordinance unless to provide greater rights protections to people.

 

Q: Is the ordinance “legal”?

 

The RBO recognizes a higher law – one of RIGHTS.

 

Lower law is regulatory law.

 

The definition of “self-government” – According to the Maine State Constitution, Article 1 Section 2. Power inherent in people. All power is inherent in the people; all free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their benefit; they have therefore an unalienable and indefeasible right to institute government, and to alter, reform, or totally change the same, when their safety and happiness require it.

 

Article I Section 24. Other rights not impaired. The enumeration of certain rights shall not impair nor deny others retained by the people.

 

So, if we believe we govern by consent, then the RBO is legitimate law-making that marks the beginning of a new civil rights movement.

 

It is our duty to correct government that denies rights and change it to protect rights.

 

Law is not meant to be static, it adapts to societal views.

 

At one time people were considered property under the Law ” (civil rights movement/suffragists).

 

What’s “legal” is not always “legitimate.

 

Q: Will the town get sued?

 

Anyone can sue anyone for anything. The ordinance does nothing to change that.

 

What the ordinance does change is the political relationship between the town and corporations who operate within the town. If a commercial interest attempts to exercise power over local decision-making, the ordinance recognizes that kind of power as “illegitimate and illegal”.

 

Q: Does the state preempt all decisions about energy and transportation – in fact, aren’t those federal issues?

 

Congress controls commerce – energy and transportation are part of federal policy, regulated at the federal and state levels.

 

State regulatory agencies (DOT, DEP) control the permitting process at the state level to implement federal policy.

 

Once a corporation fills out a permit application that is accepted by regulatory agencies as “administratively complete”, the decision is non-discretionary and the permit issues BY RIGHT.

 

If the Town does not want 135 foot towers on ridgelines, or a highway running over 400 year old farms, too bad.

 

According to regulatory law: What the state permits, the municipality cannot prohibit.

 

Would the state and federal government come in on behalf of corporations to control what happens in our town? Yes, the way the legal structure currently operates, corporations, backed up by the state through the chartering process, have more decision-making authority in the town about whether or not the E/W gets to site here, than we do.

 

Q: Will the selectmen be liable for an ordinance passed at town meeting?

 

It is common practice for corporations in charge of siting commercial and industrial projects that harm the health and safety of residents and damage the environment to threaten elected officials. They do this because they are hoping the elected officials will crumble out of fear of being sued and surrender any local control to decide what happens to the townspeople, abandoning the very people who elected them and surrendering their rights even before the case is brought to court. Surrendering in fear eliminates the trouble of preparing arguments that might portray the corporation in a bad light when their lawyers make the argument that “of course corporations have more power in your community than you do- it’s the Law”

 

The selectmen have indemnification protection. Insurance for actions taken while in office.

 

Selectmen also have the support of the community behind them. This demonstrates service and responsibility to the people, not the opposite.

 

Q: The state has our best interests at heart, surely they would not issue a permit for a project that would hurt residents, would they? Regulatory agencies protect us, right?

 

All regulatory agencies serve the same purpose – to facilitate the permitting of business and industry.

 

Q: How much will a legal battle cost, if we try to say “no” to the E/W?

 

No one can predict the cost of a lawsuit. In general, comparing a lawsuit brought using a regulatory argument and one that reframes the argument to one of rights, the latter argument is not as costly to defend.

 

Q: Why pass an ordinance that the lawyer says is illegal?

 

Law is not meant to be static – it has to change when it denies rights.

 

The town lawyer’s job is protecting the financial interests of the municipal corporation (our town) not protecting the people who live here.

 

The RBO challenges the idea that corporations, supported by the state, can harm the community without liability. Permits legalize rape, in other words.

 

Current law protects corporations – municipal corporations and private corporations – not the people and certainly not the environment.

 

The Community Bill of Rights Ordinance drives rights of real people – the residents of the town – into Law.

 

Educational pamphlet for more information contact: Gail Darrell CELDF gail(at)celdf(dot)org 603.269.8542

What the Rights Based Ordinance (RBO) Does

The ordinance makes a fundamental change in the way our town handles state and federal regulatory procedures. It involves the claim that we have the right to a final say over what corporate infrastructure projects are located here. It is a very logical argument.

 

The way it is now

 

• Regulatory procedure does not recognize the town’s existing codes, policies, zoning rules and other local ordinances. This is called the doctrine of “preemption.”

 

• Preemption allows permits given by state or federal authorities to override local control.

 

• Example: Our town has a land use ordinance. All of us who live here have to respect it when we build, or try for a variance from our local Zoning Board if we want to get a variance. A corporation such as Cianbro does not have to respect our local land use ordinances once they receive a state permit.

 

The RBO does three major things to change the way it is now

 

• It claims the right of the citizens of our town to community self-government, based on the Maine Constitution’s guarantee of consent of the governed. In this way it challenges the doctrine of preemption because we assert our legal standing in regulatory matters. If we do not claim this right, we cannot challenge preemption.

 

• It declares that corporations shall not have the rights of persons under either the US or the Maine Constitution, and removes corporations’ power to use state or federal preemptive law, including eminent domain, in our town without our consent.

 

• It claims the right of the citizens of our town to determine our own future, rather than sacrificing parts of our town to infrastructure projects forced upon us by someone else.

 

How the ordinance works

 

• Declares a bill of rights including self-governance, the right to sustainable infrastructure projects, the right to use and enjoy land, the right to preserve the aesthetic values and environment of our town.

 

• It is based on the argument we reject the (Plunder Road/East-West Trespass/ E/W ______) project and any other future infrastructure projects that we expect will come along, on the basis of being unsustainable (unsupported by and unsupportive of the town) which is why sustainability is a focus of the ordinance.

 

• The way that our town works toward a more sustainable future is left for us to determine, through our own decision-making, to be approved by popular vote. The ordinance offers a sweeping definition of what can be considered “unsustainable.” It leaves it to us to determine what we will permit or not as we move toward a more sustainable future. For example, we could exclude roadways, pipelines and power lines that damage our natural beauty, which is included in the definition of unsustainable infrastructure systems in the ordinance.

 

• The key point here: THIS IS UP TO US, not an outside permitting authority.

for more information contact: Gail Darrell CELDF gail(at)celdf(dot)org 603.269.8542