Portland’s activist community is joining for a rally this Tuesday, the 26th to oppose Nestle from taking over Oregon’s water resources and building a water bottling plant in Cascade Locks, located on Oregon’s most prized river, the Columbia River Gorge.
Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Coalition including Food & Water Watch, Bark, Sierra Club, Oregon AFSCME, Occupy Portland, Sisters of the Holy Names, Resources for Health, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Environment Oregon, Oregon Wild and thousands of Oregonians have been leading a two-year campaign raising awareness and putting pressure on Oregon Governor Kitzhaber to deny Nestle permits to build the facility.
Water is a public resource shared by all Oregonians and should not be made into a commodity, privatized and made out of reach by the majority. Furthermore, building a large bottle water facility in the scenic Columbia River would destroy the local ecosystem and further allow corporations to profit off of depleting natural resources, exacerbating climate change.
It’s kind of amazing that this is even happening and it’s pretty important that individuals take a stand to protect our environment from corporate take over. They’re not going to stop unless we take action. Oregon is slowly at risk of losing its natural resource base with proposals like this and other current developments like transporting coal exports from Montana through the Gorge too. Read up on this too and get behind Portland’s community organizations fighting against coal.
As a native Oregonian, I am proud of the Pacific Northwest’s leadership in environmental stewardship and conservation. However, I am more and more appalled at the contradiction of the ongoing development I see inside the city limits, struggling public education system over 50% dropout rate, excessive corporate interests in public entities and support for a facility that will flood our communities with plastic water bottles!
We’ve got a long way to go for Oregon to be a leader in social, economic and environmental equality - our policies and institutions need to be challenged and held accountable.
NESTLE GORGE TAKEOVER 101
The people at Reddit.com/ Portland explained the situation quite well, need I not rephrase the debate:
“Nestle has proposed to build a water bottling plant in the city of Cascade Locks, tapping over 150 million gallons of water each year out of Oxbow Spring. The spring currently feeds a fish hatchery and is also a critical habitat for threatened steelhead. They would then replace the spring with municipal well water which would involve another new infrastructure to treat and cool the replacement water. Nestle would be paying less than 1/5 of a cent per gallon for the water, making a 1500% profit to sell it back to local communities. In addition, the corporation has already stated they will not be responsible for the local infrastructure and will require a 10 year tax break. Local taxpayers will be footing the bill for pipes, not to mention the roads that will be destroyed by 200+ trucks in and out of the Gorge each day. Nestle is the largest food and beverage corporation in the world, with a long list of corporate crimes and they want to take advantage of a community that is down on it's luck. They promise to bring 48 jobs to the area, but the average water bottling plant employs only 24 people in low wage, dangerous jobs.”
Just like with Free Trade Agreements, tax breaks for corporations deplete the state’s tax base for social and public services. This is why governments are cutting funding for education, art and everything else they’re suppose to provide to the people. The 1% who profit so much off of the 99% are continuously reaping benefits and not paying for it and the common good suffer. I believe incentives to corporations like this are unjust and should not exist.
Just like the Army and our defense programs, corporations prey on rural communities and struggling cities to set up shop and use their power and prestige to lure, exploit and take over. I lived in a small town in Southeast Kansas in which Wal-Mart built and moved three times, each time building a larger Supercenter and cutting out local business. This small Midwestern town is pretty much a manufacturing hub and distribution center with workers for Amazon.com and Boeing. Now most people just work for the Chemical Plant and Refinery that bought out half the town and built up alongside the African-American communities across the railroad tracks on the east side of town.
It’s sad how communities and ethnic groups are marginalized, divided and preyed upon by those with power. I believe that it is these attitudes and values reflected in actions by corporations and our government bodies which perpetuate classism, racism and division amongst people today. This division continues to lead to violence, war fare and crimes against women, people and the environment. These themes are relevant to many global issues we are facing today.
You can see similar linkages in Portland Central America Solidarity Committee Awaz supported campaign to get Wells Fargo to divest from funding the corporate prison system, which perpetuates racism and creates profits off of immigrants and people of color. READ MORE.
PERMITS AND APPEALS
According to the Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Coalition website, in 2010, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) filed an application with Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) to exchange its spring water with the City of Cascade Locks so that the city could sell their water to Nestlé.
On February 29th, 2012 the OWRD approved two of the three necessary OWRD permits for the Nestlé Water Bottling Plant and initiated a 30-day protest period for public appeal of the permits.
Bark and the Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Coalition took action and appealed the approval of permit applications. While any member of the public can protest the permit, many individuals have identified that the fees for filing such appeals are prohibitive, with each of the two permits requiring a $600 filing fee and additional hidden costs associated with seeing the protest through.
Governor Kitzhaber has the power to advise the OWRD to deny the water exchange application
that would give away Oregon’s water so that Nestlé can bottle it.
It is the State’s job to safeguard Oregon’s public resources, especially our precious water resources for the benefit of all Oregonians, not multinational corporations. Allowing the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to move forward with this water rights exchange would permit a state-owned resource to be used for a private business model that is unsustainable,” said, Jackie Dingfelder, Oregon State Senator for District 23.
Food and Water Watch Oregon organizers have been actively involved in spearheading this campaign in Oregon. As an advocate for safe and healthy food and water policy, the national organization works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. They currently are working on reforming the Farm Bill, which is in charge of agricultural subsidies to farmers.
My favorite is this pdf they developed titled:
Water Privatization is not a new issues – it’s happening and has been happening worldwide.
Blue Gold - an excellent film about the world water wars in the U.S. and around the globe.
Tuesday, June 26th at 4pm
Terry Schrunk Plaza
Southwest Madison Street and 3rd Ave
We need to tell Governor Kitzhaber: Either you stand with Oregonians or you stand with Nestlé!