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Environmental Groups Respond To DEQ Decision On Nestlé Permit Request

Environmental groups are upset over a decision by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to allow Nestlé to pump millions of gallons of groundwater at their White Pine Springs site in Osceola County.

The permit will allow Nestlé to increase the water withdrawal rate from 250 to 400 gallons-per-minute.

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, and the UPEC Mining Group all blasted the MDEQ for issuing the permit, despite what they say were more than 80,000 comments submitted opposing the project.

Here is the full statement released by the Mining Action Group:

Environmental Response to Nestle Permit Decision: Michigan Regulators Hand Multi-Billion Dollar Company Permit to Pump Millions of Gallons of Groundwater – for $200 Per Year?

MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN — On Monday, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that it had issued a controversial permit authorizing Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. to withdraw increased quantities of groundwater at their White Pine Springs site, located in Osceola County near Evart, Michigan. Environmental organizations are stunned by the DEQ’s decision, noting overwhelming public opposition to the Nestlé permit – more than 80,000 comments submitted opposing the project – and calling the DEQ’s action destabilizing and short-sighted.

“Michigan residents are putting up with unaffordable and sometimes unsafe drinking water, while Nestlé, which had sales of $7.4 billion from water alone in 2016, pumps Michigan groundwater basically for free. To add insult to injury, many Flint residents have been forced to buy bottled water to provide safe drinking and bath water for themselves and their families. The situation is outrageous,” said UPEC board member Steve Garske.

Issuance of the Nestlé permit “represents yet another fundamental failure by the agency to safeguard Michigan’s precious water resources,” according to Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Michigan’s abundant water defines who we are, and we have a responsibility to protect our water for future generations.”

“The evidence shows that groundwater drawdowns will harm the freshwater resources of Michigan. The Nestlé permit should have been denied,” said Kathleen Heideman of the UPEC Mining Action Group.

In response, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition President Horst Schmidt has released the following statement:

“Nestlé’s press release is illuminating: they praise “the MDEQ’s careful review and consideration of our application, in what it has called its most thorough review ever, and we look forward to providing them with the monitoring plans as required.”  The DEQ approved this permit before groundwater monitoring plans were in place, demonstrating the outsized power of big business – natural resource extractors like Nestlé Global – in our state. Michigan regulatory agencies have been “captured” by the very entities they are supposed to be regulating. Permit decisions must be science-driven, not political. Clean water is our shared resource: it is a public right, not a commodity. This is a public trust issue.”



Mission of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition
Founded in 1976, the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition’s purpose remains unchanged: to protect and maintain the unique environmental qualities of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by educating the public and acting as a watchdog to industry and government. UPEC is a nonprofit, registered 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, call 906-201-1949, see UPenvironment.org, or contact: upec@upenvironment.org.

Mission of the UPEC Mining Action Group
The UPEC Mining Action Group (MAG), formerly known as Save the Wild U.P., is a grassroots effort to defend the clean water and wild places of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. Contact the Mining Action Group at info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Learn more about the Mining Action Group at miningactiongroup.org.

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