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).