Below you will find a list of my objections to Freshwater Tissue Co.'s application to reopen the Samoa Pulp Mill.
The Samoa Pulp Mill's new owner is planning to reopen soon and has already gotten approval from the Air Quality Management District and is seeking approval from the Water Quality Board to operate without environmental standards being met and to put off required upgrades and improvements for several years. They plan to use millions of gallons of water a day to produce thousands of tons of pulp from live trees, mostly Tan Oaks, to make toilet paper pulp and ship it to China.
Problem #1: The past owner did not perform the upgrades that were promised. Instead, they are asking for permission to operate without meeting environmental laws, and they have had outstanding water bills for $millions. When environmental laws are ignored by regulating agencies the pulp mill can pollute the air and water to a greater degree than the law allows. These laws are in place in an effort to protect humans and other species from too much exposure to toxic chemicals.
Problem #2: To meet environmental standards, some 50 million dollars worth of upgrades are required. How much TP will they have to sell to do that? And how long will it take? The owner has already applied for a permit to put off completing the upgrades for three years.
Problem #3: The value of the Tan Oak has never been truly understood by our culture. There is no tree that has given more to man or wildlife, particularly in food, directly or indirectly. It is interesting how we view the Tan Oaks taking over clear-cut areas as being a reason for removing them. Maybe the Tan Oak does the best job of providing food for wildlife until the original biodiversity of the forest is restored. Damaged areas are very susceptible to invasive species takeover, so Tan Oaks should be welcomed. Plus, the Tan Oak is not a true oak; it is a Lithocarpus which only lives in Northern California and Southern Oregon. All other varieties of Lithocarpus are native to Southeast Asia.
Problem #4: Mr. Simpson says toilet paper is a necessity of life. Even if it was, we do not have to cut down established trees that have always been held sacred to the people who lived on these lands sustainably for thousands of years. Using them for TP only shows our ignorance.
Problem #5: Why use native vegetation when we have plenty of invasive species that need to be removed from the land that has already been damaged? What about recycled paper products? There are environmentally conscious toilet paper companies that use recycled paper--There are tons of it. A good mill would use invasive species plant material and recycled paper and follow all environmental law and make paper in nontoxic ways.