Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Inland Empire people, here's how @realdonaldtrump can get @NestleUSA out of our national forest

On Google Plus, Jason ON discussed the wild idea of the U.S. government selling water rights to private entities.

Jason may not have realized that this has already happened.

In the course of a post last month in my Empoprise-BI business blog, I discussed Nestle USA's headquarters move from California to Virginia and talked about our little Inland Empire issue with Nestle.

Speaking of organic, Nestle signed a sweetheart deal years ago with the U.S. Forest Service to take millions of dollars of water out of the San Bernardino National Forest at minimal charge. Now perhaps you haven't seen Nestle Water on your shelves, but you've seen Arrowhead water. Yup, that comes from my national forest.

Perhaps if I just agreed to let Nestle take all that water, and cut down all the trees (that's a joke - there are hardly any trees in the National Forest because of the elevation) in the National Forest to boot, they would have stayed here.

But then again, perhaps my friends in Arlington will have their own troubles when Nestle gets to their Rosslyn headquarters and starts draining water out of the Potomac.

Now Nestle gets its Arrowhead water from the forest because the water is pristine and wonderful and all that.

But what if that changes?

President Trump signed documents Tuesday directing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the Obama administration's "Waters of the United States" rule. In doing so, Trump said he is "paving the way for the elimination" of the rule.

He asked for the reviewers to assess its consistency with "promoting economic growth" and "minimizing regulatory uncertainty," among other factors.

Now I have no idea if the Arrowhead springs are affected by this particular move, but it's no secret that certain government officials want to promote economic growth in a lot of areas. And that could very well include the San Bernardino National Forest.

Yeah, but what resources are present up there other than water and (a few) trees?


In 1855, gold was discovered in the San Bernardino mountains. Over the second half of the 19th century, mining, timber, and grazing grew quickly....

If you stop reading there, then you may quote from a famous Democrat - "It's the economy, stupid" - and realize that you can Make America Great Again by restoring our economic viability.

Just don't read the rest of the paragraph that I started quoting above.

In 1855, gold was discovered in the San Bernardino mountains. Over the second half of the 19th century, mining, timber, and grazing grew quickly, taking a heavy toll on the land. By the end of the 19th century, significant sectors of the forest had been felled and overgrazed. Streams and rivers were silting in and water quality was declining. Meanwhile a growing population and a thriving citrus industry made increasing demands for clean drinking and irrigation water.

Now let's say that economic growth proponents kinda sorta ignore that last part - and hey, the citrus industry has moved anyway! Now let's say that the San Bernardino National Forest is opened up to logging, gold mining, grazing, and other activities to restore our economic competitiveness.

Of course, a resurgence of such activities could result in "water quality...declining" again, affecting Nestle's pristine water.

Which brings up the possibility of Nestle suing the government for not being environmentally friendly, and reneging on its contract with Nestle. Only one problem - Nestle can't sue the government for reneging on a contract, because Nestle's permit expired a long time ago.

So Nestle will have to shut down its Arrowhead operation and start getting water from the Potomac River.

Or perhaps from Flint, Michigan.

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