Critical Examination of a Crystal Geyser Economic Study
To gain further understanding of the real costs of a bottling plant in our community, W.A.T.E.R. commissioned Noah Enelow, Ph.D, senior economist, Ecotrust, Portland, Oregon to provide a an analysis of the economic effects of the Crystal Geyser plant. You can see the report HERE
Over a year ago, in March, 2016, an Arizona consulting firm, Applied Economics released a report titled Economic Impacts of Crystal Geyser on Siskiyou County, California, (AE Study). Shortly thereafter, March 30, 2016, the CEO of Crystal Geyser Water Company (CGWC), Yasu Iwamoto, in a guest opinion column, sited this study as an independent economic analysis. These reports are expensive and someone with a vested interest in the plant had to pay for the report. Why not say who? And on May 4, 2016, a corporate public relations advertisement was placed in the paper using the report to taut much-exaggerated potential economic gains.
The AE Study uses inaccurate and inflated assumptions including those concerning wages. Why not use actual figures, which are much lower? Will the jobs be full time with benefits or will CG be hiring part time employees or use a staffing service through an employment agency? Will there be an additional 1.4 jobs for every CGWC job created as their advertising claims?
The report provided no example of where a water bottling plant has helped a community economically. Again, why use ambiguous and questionable assumptions as to the effects CG will have on our county when it could use actual examples of the CG Roxane plant in Weed and CG plant in Olancha Point, CA? Probably because there is no benefit to a corporation extracting water for free and not being responsible for its costly negative impacts on the community and environment - which can include waste water treatment, damaged roads, heavy truck traffic, visual blight, and air, water, and noise pollution. Small businesses, property values, and tourism can be damaged by all of these factors as well as causing a decline in quality of life and health. (128)
Just as the community has strongly questioned the draft EIR with more than 150 submitted comments, the We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (WATER) group and many other residents of Siskiyou County question many of the assumptions and claims made by the AE Study.
To gain further understanding, WATER commissioned Noah Enelow, Ph.D, senior economist, Ecotrust, Portland, Oregon to provide a critical examination of the AE study. He commented on many aspects of the report and concluded that “Crystal Geyser's promises of jobs and economic revitalization cannot be taken at face value. Its leading economic study is riddled with errors, omissions, and questionable assumptions; and it has failed to take account of the economic costs of the project's environmental impacts...the benefits claimed by the AE study are almost certainly overstated; and the costs to private and public property, health, and the natural environment are ignored.”
Noah Enelow states the AE Study “is not a good guide to decision-making around the proposed plant.” W.A.T.E.R. secured this critique and in addition has demanded a full EIR so that our public officials will make an informed decision that will protect their constituents, our community, and our environment. As elected officials, that is their responsibility. Once an international corporation establishes itself in a community, local control of its practices is lost.