Yesterday, environmental activists groups — the Center for Biological Diversity, the Story of Stuff Project and the Courage Campaign Institue — filed a joint lawsuit against the United States Forest Service for allowing Nestle to continue bottling water for its Arrowhead division from the San Bernadino Forest long after the 1988 permit expiration. Nestle’s crimes were brought to national attention after an expose by the Desert Sun earlier this year.
Multiple petitions have been started against Nestle, including this one by a plaintiff in the lawsuit, the Courage Campaign. Although the public pressure brought by petitions has been effective for quite a few causes, it has not been enough for Nestle to change its behavior in California. This is hardly surprising given Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck’s attitude on water not being a public right, or given Nestle Waters North America CEO Tim Brown saying in response to the drought that he would increase California water profits if he could.
When petitioning isn’t enough: environmental groups lawsuit demands Nestle stop bottling immediately until special permit is renewed
During a time when Californians have been put under mandatory water restrictions due to the extreme drought, some reports claim Nestle obtains between 50 million and 150 million gallons of water each year from the southern Californian forest, despite an expired permit and the danger to the fragile ecological system. Nestle claims it “only” bottled about 25 million gallons last year as if that makes the practice less abhorrent. Also, according to The Internation Business Times:
…Nestlé has reportedly denied the accusations, saying that its 1978 permit has not yet expired and is “in full force and effect” legally. The Forest Service does not collect fees for water usage but charges a permit fee of about $524 from Nestlé.
That’s right — Nestle has been allowed to take millions upon millions of gallons of water, from the public lands of a drought-stricken state for $524 dollars a year. Nestle claims the bottling is legal while the special permit is under review. The full lawsuit obtained by USA Today demands the U.S. Forest Service stop Nestle from using the water pipeline “unless and until it issues a valid special use permit.”
Hopefully, this lawsuit is enough to require the U.S. Forest Service and Nestle stop bottling water from the contested area until this situation receives the full modern scrutiny it deserves. Corporations need to stop getting away with crimes against society and the environment, and government agencies need to stop enabling them.
Watch the video from plaintiff Story Of Stuff Project:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qcus410BwX8&w=560&h=315]
Featured image via Youtube.