On March 12, 2009, after repeated violations, the North Coast Water Quality Control Board revoked the Waste Discharge Permit for the Samoa Pulp Mill. Now, on July 15, 2010, the Board plans to issue a new Discharge Permit, although not one thing has changed except that a new owner, Freshwater Tissue promises to do better - and to make some changes in the mill's water pollution control system over a future three year period. This is not how the regulatory process should work.
Suppose there is an individual in my neighborhood who raises pit bulls as a business. However the fence around his kennel is low, has several holes, and on several occasions dogs have escaped and mauled children in the neighborhood. The city closes the kennel, revoking its license, but a year later a new pit bull breeder appears and applies for a license to operate the same kennel.
Should he be given a new license? No, of course, until he has increased the height of the fence and repaired all existing holes. Of course. But suppose the new breeder says, "I'll be happy to fix the fence, but first I'll need you to give me a new kennel license so I can sell some pit bulls in order to raise enough money to do the needed fence repairs. I figure I can do this is two or three years."
Do you think anyone in the neighborhood would allow this? And yet this is exactly what is going on between Freshwater Tissue and the Water Quality Board. Freshwater is saying, "Give me a Waste Discharge Permit so I can attract investors and raise money to improve its waste discharge system."
Although no one would think of allowing such a procedure in the case of mauling pit bulls, this has become standard procedure for water and air polluting facilities like the Samoa Pulp Mill while its owners promise - once again - to repair the holes in its fence.