Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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The Bad Taste of Perrier

Robert Downes - March 14th, 2002
So, how do you like the notion that Michigan is giving nearly $10 million to a corporation in Paris which will sell our precious groundwater and send the profits to a company in Switzerland?
Those are the dirty details behind the $100 million Perrier water bottling plant being built in Mecosta County.
The Perrier Group of America has been a subsidiary of Perrier Vittel in Paris since 1992. Perrier Vittel, in turn, is owned by the Nestlé Corporation of Switzerland.
“As the world‘s largest bottled water company, Perrier Vittel serves customers in 140 countries on 5 continents with more than 70 well-known bottled water brands,“ states its website at www.perriergroup.com.
Closer to home, the Wall Street Journal reported in 1997 that the Perrier Group of America owns or operates 122 springs in the U.S. alone. All over America, environmentalists have been fighting Perrier to preserve groundwater in states such as Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania.
And now they‘re after our water... with the profits going to Switzerland!
The wealthy burghers of Geneva must surely be raising a glass of springwater to toast their good friend, Gov. John Engler.
We can‘t say that we “own“ the water under Northern Michigan any more than we own the waters of the Amazon, the snows of Antarctica or the air over Africa.
But by tradition, we are the guardians of our groundwater -- no one‘s going to keep it clean or protect it but us.
So in a sense, we do collectively “own“ the water and air of our region through the agency of our state government, which is supposed to serve as our watchdog.
That watchdog has been sleeping on the job in regard to the Perrier plant near Big Rapids, which seeks to pump 80 to 105 million gallons of groundwater per year.
The kicker is that the Engler administration is also paying Perrier $9.6 million for the privilege of making a profit.
Perrier will receive $9.6 million from the State of Michigan in the form of “a subsidy package of infrastructure improvements, worker training, and property and education tax abatements,“ according to a report entitled “Liquid Gold Rush“ by Andrew Guy and Patty Cantrell of the Michigan Land Use Institute.
Your tax dollars will assist a company which had $1.6 billion in revenues last year, according to its website (and we‘re talking about the Perrier Group of America here, not Nestlé).
In addition to granting Perrier permission to pump up to 105 million gallons of groundwater per year, Michigan‘s Department of Environmental Quality has approved pipelines for more than 210 million gallons.
As usual in such cases, the ringing question is “why“?
Why would Governor Engler sell out Michigan‘s resources at a time when he‘s also giving lip service to the Great Lakes Charter, a treaty between Canada and the U.S. which was created to preserve the waters of the Great Lakes?
The usual answer for plundering natural resources at the expense of the future is jobs. Perrier‘s plant will create 80 new jobs in a needy part of the state. Even so, that seems small compensation for this dangerous precedent in water diversion.
Forty years from now, the volume of water in the Great Lakes could drop by as much as 25 percent, according to a 1997 report by a coalition of U.S. and Canadian environmental groups.
Perrier‘s pumps will draw from a central Michigan aquifer that serves as the wellspring for the Muskegon River which empties into Lake Michigan. The Perrier project comes at a time when Great Lake levels are down something like 7 feet on Lake Michigan and 20 feet on Lake Erie.
The good news here is a lawsuit filed recently by three Northern Michigan Indian tribes in U.S. District Court. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Petoskey, the Grand Traverse Band Of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians‘ suit claims that the water diversion violates an 1836 treaty between the federal government and Michigan tribes.
The Perrier project is no small thing in the era of the World Trade Organization, in which all of the environmental rules are being rewritten to benefit corporations such as Perrier Vittel and Nestlé. At a United Nations conference in 1998, the officials of 84 counties agreed that henceforth, water should be considered a “commodity“ to be paid for, rather than a free, essential element to life on Earth.
That‘s good news for companies like Nestlé, but really bad news for Northern Michigan.
 
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