Poland Spring Fighting Maine Legislature to Preserve Profits

Via the Portland Press Herald, we learn about what’s starting to look like a general uprising against Nestle/Poland Spring’s business model of profiting heavily from water while externalizing every other cost to the public. Poland Spring feels the heat in Augusta | Portland Press Herald

Poland Spring is fighting a number of measures as lawmakers consider proposals ranging from a tax on bottled water to a bill that would allow local communities to deny corporations their constitutional rights. The proposals come as the water bottler has also had to contend with the recession, growing public distaste toward plastic bottles and opposition to its activities in a number of Maine communities.

Today, the Taxation Committee holds a public hearing on a proposed penny-a-gallon tax. The tax would apply to containers of five gallons or less, with half the revenue offsetting other taxes; 25 percent to watershed and water-quality protection; and 25 percent to the community from which the water was extracted.

Also up for discussion is a bill allowing cities to treat corporations differently than individuals – the issue at the heart of the bans voted in by citizens in Newfield and Shapleigh.

On Wednesday, the State and Local Government Committee considers a bill that would allow municipalities to deny corporations constitutional rights. Discussion among committee members and a vote are possible during the work session.

The measure is related to local water-extraction ordinances promoted by activists in several communities. The local ordinances state that corporations doing business in the community do not have the protections found in the federal and state constitutions.

Residents of Newfield and Shapleigh have approved such measures in recent months. Selectmen in Wells had voted against putting the measure on the ballot, but a petition drive gathered enough signatures to force a special town meeting that will be held May 16.

“We’re trying to protect our own aquifer here in southern Maine because we don’t want to get in bed with Nestle. And we want the right as local people to protect our local resources,” said Cynthia Howard, a Biddeford architect and a member of Save Our Water, or SOH2O.

This one faces a much tougher battle, and the state attorney general’s office thinks it might just be unconstitutional. It’s also been derided as “anti-business” though we have to comment; this wouldn’t be necessary if some businesses were more citizen friendly (and yes, we mean you, our lawsuit-happy friends at Nestle).

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2 thoughts on “Poland Spring Fighting Maine Legislature to Preserve Profits

  1. It’s about time that the Maine Legislature addresses Nestle and mass water extraction.

    LD1028 insures that a Municipality has the right to adopt and enforce a ordinance and denies corporations the ability to challenge or nullify said document.

    LD237 Imposes a .01 cent per gallon excise tax on bottled water operators who have extracted more than 1,000,000 in the previous year. The proceeds will go to protect watersheds, the general fund and to the municipality where the water is extracted.

    Some may say that taxing a natural resource is wrong and I have thought long and hard over this. I believe that the battle against Nestle is one that must come from many different directions. Poland Springs/Nestle has stated that if Maine taxes the water they extract, it will make it difficult for them to compete with other bottlers outside the state.
    It will hurt their profits and we all know that money is the most important thing to Nestle, isn’t it?

    Donna Fournier
    Denmark Maine

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