Attorney General’s office warns Nestle

Will Duggan

Citing the State of California’s power and duty to protect the natural resources of the State from pollution, impairment or destruction, the office  of the Attorney General has warned Nestle Waters of North America of a possible legal challenge to their proposed water bottling plant in McCloud.

The stated objective of the 10 page letter dated July 28, 2008 is to provide guidance to both Nestle and Siskiyou County in revising the project plans for the controversial  plant and subsequent Environmental Impact Reports.

Deputy Attorney General Deborah R. Sloan also asked the County of Siskiyou to formally revise its Environmental Impact Report and circulate a new draft of the EIR.

Specified in the letter by the Attorney General’s office are concerns about deficiencies in previous environmental reports. Copies of the letter were sent to concerned agencies and organizations, including Siskiyou County.

 The letter also states that the AG is encouraged by recent developments whereby Nestle has agreed to scale back their original plans and undertake a thorough two to three year evaluation of the environmental and economic impacts of the plant on the town of McCloud and  the surrounding aquifers and wilderness. (Nestle released a press release about that process on Monday. See page A13).

In response to the AG letter the Protect Our Waters Coalition said they are in full agreement regarding the wide-ranging problems associated with the proposed plant.

“This letter indicates that what happens in McCloud is of concern to the whole state,” said Curtis Knight, Mt. Shasta Area Regional Manager for California Trout.

“We agree with the Attorney General that any future proposal from Nestle must be made with a studied understanding of all environmental impacts of the project, including impacts related to global warming, to the McCloud River watershed and to the town of McCloud,” Knight continued. “Any future Nestle project proposal also must include meaningful provisions to limit negative environmental impacts and to ensure adequate mitigation for these impacts.”

Debra Anderson, a McCloud Watershed Council Board Member said, “We are pleased and would like to express our gratitude to the Attorney General for taking such an interest in the broad spectrum of concerns surrounding this project. We hope that Nestle will take appropriate action and cancel the existing contract.”

The letter concludes with the statement that ‘the DEIR for the originally proposed bottling plant project is so fundamentally and basically inadequate and conclusory in nature that   meaningful public review and comment is precluded. As a result, the DEIR must be revised and recirculated. Fortunately,  it appears that Nestle is redesigning the project, which will require a new EIR as well. We encourage the County to consider the issues raised in  this  letter as it proceeds with a new EIR.

A call to Nestle’s McCloud project manager Dave Palais for comment on the letter indicated the company was prepared to abide by the Attorney General Office’s recommendations.