Sep. 22, 2016 09:39AM EST
Nestlé Can Keep Piping Water Out of Drought-Stricken California Despite
Permit Expiring in 1988
In a major setback for environmental groups, a federal judge in
California has tossed out allegations that the U.S. Forest Service
allowed Nestlé's bottled water operation to take water from the San
Bernardino National Forest on a permit that expired back in 1988.
The decision regards a lawsuit filed against the Forest Service in
October 2015 by the Courage Campaign Institute, the Center for
Biological Diversity and the Story of Stuff Project. The groups alleged
that the agency was allowing Nestlé Waters North America to pipe water
from public lands on a permit that had long expired.
With the ruling, the multinational food and drink corporation can
continue its use of a four-mile pipeline that siphons thousands of
gallons of public water a day from the Strawberry Creek watershed and
sell it back to the public as bottled water. The water is sold under the
U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal wrote in a Sept. 20 order that since
the Forest Service received a request to renew the permit in May 1987,
the effort was considered a "timely and sufficient application for
renewal," thus keeping the original permit valid.
Bernal rejected the plaintiffs's argument that the Forest Service's
failure to act on the May 1987 request renders the permit invalid.
"Plantiffs do not identify, and the court cannot find, any authority
holding that an agency's failure to act within a reasonable time"
invalidates a special use permit, Bernal wrote.
The decision was criticized by the three environmental groups that
initiated the lawsuit.
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