We found the staff of the Air and Water Districts to be very competent, but the real power rests with the Air and Water Boards. These are political appointees, and therefore subject to political pressure, and as we all know politics is strongly influenced if not controlled by money. The recent political campaign is a prime illustration of this. Millions of dollars were infused into the campaign by often unknown individuals and corporations.
Since the people of West Eureka have little money and there was the possibility that Freshwater could make money, it was a clear decision for the Water Board to give Freshwater every chance to open the pulp mill again. In addition apparently, the decision to grant the pulp mill an exception to the law was supported by Governor Schwarzenegger which would have made it hard for the members of the Water Board to say no. The first communication from the Water Board staff told Freshwater that they had to meet the standards of the Clean Water Act before they could open. Apparently, this was when the Governor's Office stepped in. The next communication from the Water Board staff talked about the Cease and Desist order which gave them an extended period to meet the law.
The pulp mill is apparently not going to open again, so why is this important? The Samoa Pulp Mill is not the only polluting industry. If exceptions were made for the pulp mill, how many other exceptions to the law are given to polluters. As the consequences of pollution become more serious worldwide, we need to speak up and tell those in power that we are watching and that we expect them to protect us and our environment. No exceptions!