Tag Archives: corporate accountability international

What Happens When Nestle Enters a Rural Community (Statement from Terry Swier of Michigan)

Terry Swier of Michigan has experienced Nestle Waters of North America’s predatory approach to rural communities firsthand; the Swiss multinational threatened a SLAPP suit (an intimidation lawsuit) aimed at those opposing them (eerily similar to their attempt to subpoena the private financial records of local opposed to their McCloud contract).

From the Corporate Accountability Web site comes this statement from Ms. Swier – which should be required reading by the citizens of any town on the receiving end of Nestle’s attentions:

Statement from Terry Swier, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, at the Nestle Waters North America Headquarters

I am Terry Swier, the President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC), a grassroots environmental group with 2,000 members. I am here today to tell Nestlé that MCWC is committed to continue the fight to protect the waters of the Great Lakes Basin for our children and generations to come.

Our lives have changed over the past eight years, since Nestlé came to Michigan with plans to pump 720,000 gallons per day of spring water from a private hunting preserve, pipe it to its plant, bottle it, and ship it out of the Great Lakes Basin for its own profit. Nestlé’s pumping has lowered a stream, two lakes, and adjacent wetlands. Nestlé continues to pump at high rates during periods of lower rainfall and recharge. And this is the just the tip of Nestlé Ice Mountain:

• MCWC has taken Nestlé to court to prove that water belongs to the people. MCWC vs. Nestlé is heading back to the courts in July of this to ask for adjustment of Nestlé’s pumping levels to prevent further environmental impacts. Nestlé has challenged the right of citizen groups, like ours, to bring lawsuits to protect land that is not on our own property, even though ecological damage affects us all. This is not about just bottled water. This is a battle over who will own and control the water. To date, MCWC has spent more than a $1,000,000 in court costs and lawyer and environmental experts’ fees. Nestlé is determined to run us dry in more ways than one and no amount of talk about being a ‘good neighbor’ will change that fact.

• To compound matters, Nestlé hired a polling firm to call targeted residents and ask questions about my leadership qualities and character.

• The corporation has also sent private investigators to homes of people who had signed MCWC’s referendum asking intimidating questions about whether they understood what they were signing, most likely with the hope of invalidating the referendum.

• What’s more, Nestlé threatened a potential Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation; know as a SLAPP suit, against my son and others who spoke out publicly about the company’s bad practices.

• And the corporation has also leveraged policymakers, actively pursuing and being granted tax breaks, grants, and numerous favors in spite of its poor environmental record and its exportation of water from Michigan.

With Nestlé the story is always the same; the only difference is the address.

In Advance of 4/23 Stockholder Meeting, Nestle Told to “Stop Fooling With Community Water”

Nestle’s April 23 Stockholder meeting is becoming a focal point in time for those who want Nestle to reform their business model – especially the predatory tactics employs when tapping the water supplies of small, rural communities.

Corporate Accountability International is highlighting Nestle’s actions in many small communities, including a few doozies listed in their latest pre-stockholders meeting press release:

“For years Nestle employed a range of tactics to wrest water rights from rural communities and downstream users, keeping its abuses out of sight and out of mind to the public,” said Deborah Lapidus, campaigns director for Corporate Accountability International. “Well, affected communities have now made it clear there is a pattern that needs to stop.”

To begin bottling in communities, Nestle has been engaged in everything from costly public relations campaigns and legal challenges to backroom deals for water rights. For example:

Public relations to pump.

This year, several Maine communities passed ordinances to protect community water rights. Their victory was significant, given that just a few years earlier, Nestle pumped more than $200,000 to front groups that successfully attacked and defeated similar, statewide measures in the media.

Draining community resources in more ways than one. When communities in Michigan challenged Nestle’s right to drain hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every day, the corporation waged a drawn out court battle to maintain its access to water. The protracted legal struggle has burdened community members with costly legal fees , exhausting the community’s resources to challenge water withdrawals.

Behind closed doors, Nestle is now making yet another pass at Mt. Shasta water after backroom negotiations with county officials precipitated a six year struggle. In 2003, Nestle negotiated a deal to pay a little less than 1/100th of a cent per gallon for at least 50 years, before any public meeting or knowledge of the project.

“When one tactic fails, Nestle changes things up and tries another,” said Anne Wentworth, of Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources in Shapleigh, Maine. “What doesn’t change is the resolve of our communities to keep water under local control. We know all too well what happens when that changes.”

This last sentence is instructive. The potential profits from a water extraction deal mean Nestle always has a reason to return. After years of imposing their template on small communities, they took some serious hits, but profitability demands they don’t simply go away.

Instead, they come back at you from a different direction, and nowhere is this more true than in their legal battles, where they simply outspend opponents (often parttime citizen activists) and keep going until they find the legal loophole they want.

It’s not pretty when it happens, and it’s a shame they won’t be called on to explain their actions in their meeting.

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Citizens Demand Nestle “Stop Fooling With Community Water Supplies”

With Nestle’s Shareholder meeting fast approaching (April 23), citizen’s groups are ramping up their media campaigns.

They’re hoping to apply pressure to the giant multinational, who – given their legal firepower and propensity for factionalizing communities – seems only responsive to bad PR (and rarely that).

Corporate Accountability International published a joint letter from local activists (including activists from California, Michigan, Maine and Florida) calling on the company to stop its abusive business practices in rural communities:

BOSTON – In the lead-up to Nestlé’s annual shareholders’ meeting this April 23rd, a storm is gathering around the business practices of the world’s largest water bottler. Communities across the country have long been engaged in struggles with the bottling giant over control of local water resources. Now many of these struggles are coming to a head and a national campaign called Think Outside the Bottle is using April Fools Day to call on the corporation to, “stop fooling with community water supplies.”

“For years Nestlé employed a range of tactics to wrest water rights from rural communities and downstream users, keeping its abuses out of sight and out of mind to the public,” said Deborah Lapidus, campaigns director for Corporate Accountability International. “Well, affected communities have now made it clear there is a pattern that needs to stop.”

Unfortunately – with significant profits at stake – Nestle isn’t stopping, a fact noted by Maine’s Anne Wenworth:

“When one tactic fails, Nestlé changes things up and tries another,” said Anne Wentworth, of Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources in Shapleigh, Maine. “What doesn’t change is the resolve of our communities to keep water under local control. We know all too well what happens when that changes.”

As Michigan’s Jim Olsen noted, when Nestle loses on one front, they pick right up and come back at you from a different angle.

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