Hey, remember that Flint water thing? Remember how lead leached into the water supply in 2014 because of a switch to a new cheaper untreated source (at the behest of a Republican governor), and how Obama declared it a state of emergency, and it wasn’t resolved until 2017, and how fertility rates have dropped and fetal deaths have risen as a direct result? Or, hell, how Detroit shut off water to thousands of residents in 2014 in an effort to stave off bankruptcy?
Water is a sensitive topic in Michigan. And now there’s this, from NPR:
In a much-watched case, a Michigan agency has approved Nestlé’s plan to boost the amount of water it takes from the state. The request attracted a record number of public comments — with 80,945 against and 75 in favor.
Read those numbers again. That’s 80,945 opposed, and 75 in favor. With a huge sample size, 99.89 percent were against.
Were those people taken into account? Of course not. You have to ask—why even pretend to care what state residents have to say if it won’t influence your policy one iota?
The amazing thing here is that Nestle bottles the water it uses, and then sells it for profit. Now, they’ll be able to up their production significantly:
Under the plan, Nestlé will be approved to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from the well, rather than the 250 gallons per minute it had been extracting. The company first applied for the new permit in July 2016.
The complaints that came in, per Michigan Radio, were largely centered on three themes: “corporate greed versus people and the environment,” “water is not for profit,” and “worries about privatizing water.” Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality essentially said its hands were tied, and despite public comment, they had no choice but to approve on legal grounds.
In short, while water problems abound in the state, and scarcity issues linger on the horizon for America (and are much more pressing elsewhere), Michigan is giving discounted water to a mega corporation so that they can bottle and sell it for profit—and much of it will be sold in different states. Meanwhile, every environmental claim Nestle has made has proven dubious, and activists claim the MDEQ’s studies have been insufficient to predict adverse effects.
But the bottom line, as we’ve seen over and over again, is that corporations in America matter more than people. It would be wrong to say the system doesn’t work, because it’s only a failure if you think it’s designed to benefit individuals. It’s not—it’s meant to cater to the profit motive of the giants, and even a massive outcry can’t change the ugly reality.