The Corporate Rape of the Great Lakes

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 6.25.54 PMBy Alec Cope

The Great Lakes, 5 bodies of water that collectively make up the largest body of fresh water on Earth, accounting for 1/5 of the planet’s fresh water; are currently being ravaged by corporate interest. As of 2006, a loophole in the Great Lakes Compact has allowed for private parties to exploit the Great Lakes for corporate profit. The corporation, Nestle, is leading the charge. Nestle is selling actual boatloads of Lake Michigan water to China for a profit of $500,000—$1.8 million per day. Although some have linked Obama to the exploitation, the Great Lakes Compact is ultimately a state agreement, not federal.

Former CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has stated that access to water should be privatized and should not be a “fundamental right” because people have a sense of “entitlement” that makes them waste the water.

Their arrogance knows no bounds.

Nestle constantly damages the environment of the planet on a global level. Here is a list of all Nestle-owned products. But others are involved in pumping the Lakes dry, these include Ice Mountain, Perrier and Great Spring Waters of America.

It may seem intimidating to face off against the world’s largest food company, but it is already one of the biggest boycotted companies in the UK and there are plenty of alternatives that include reusable water bottles and sink filters to name a few.

The Great Lakes are being leeched at a rapid rate all while California is suffering one of the worst droughts in its entire history. California grows nearly half of this nation’s fruits and vegetables while exporting almost $20 billion in food production. The drought is so drastic that the Colorado River no longer reaches the Pacific Ocean. Although the Obama administration has promised about $1 billion dollars in aid to California, their promises are seldom kept.

The Palisades nuclear reactor on the coast of Lake Michigan was shut down after leaking nuclear waste into Lake Michigan 6 times in the past two years, with nuclear waste being emitted into the control room of the facility in one incident. The reactor is owned by the Entergy corporation, which has been accused of fraud and has been sued for $6.6 million for not maintaining its facilities as well as paying a $1.2 million dollar fine for a fire at their Indian Point nuclear facility.

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan has a co-chair on the Council of Great Lakes Governors which is a council of governors from the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, and Indiana with the main goal being the preservation of the Great Lakes. Governor Snyder approved of a sulfide mine in Northern Michigan in November 2012, the mine being 200 feet away from Lake Superior. There has never been a sulfide mine that has not polluted the local water shed because the acid mine drainage poisons the local water system for 2,500 – 10,000 + years. So for Snyder to be part of a council claiming to protect the lakes while approving the sulfide mine appears hypocritical.

On March 25, 2014 British Petroleum (BP) spilled crude oil into Lake Michigan from its refinery in Whiting, Indiana. The company claimed a malfunction in a new distillation unit caused roughly 18 barrels of oil to spill into the lake. A day later, BP doubled its estimates to 39 barrels or approximately 1,600 gallons of oil. The United States Coast Guard completed their investigation into the oil spill on April 24th, ignoring BP’s violation of the Clean Water Act.

BP has a history of not paying its debts. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20th, 2010 which resulted in the deaths of 11 workers and 206 million gallons of crude oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico for 86 days, causing devastation to the environment as well as local fishermen who depend on the Gulf as their lifeline. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in July of 2013 requested about $148 million from BP to fund “injury assessment and restoration planning activities”, which BP has declined to pay, claiming that the damage from the spill was “less than feared”.

BP also argued many of the settlements to the damages have been greatly exaggerated, although settlement records show that out of the 3,000 claims, only 20 have been paid. So if any damage has been done to Lake Michigan, chances are BP will avoid paying damages.

Many community-funded organizations are prepared to fight for and protect the Great Lakes. These individuals are upset with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEC) for not adequately protecting and regulating use of the lakes, especially after the operation Nestlé and Ice Mountain have running in Mecosta, Michigan was blown wide open in late 2000.

One of the largest of the organizations is Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, which has already squared off against Nestle and continues to actively engage them. You can donate or even join the organization to quicken the impact of this issue.

Another one of these organizations is Sum Of Us, which is an online-based activist hub with dozens of campaigns for various things including attacking Nestle’s privatization of water.

Finally, a grassroots association composed of rural citizens known as Stop Nestle Waters also operates as an information source as well as a gathering point for concerned citizens fighting to preserve local water supplies.

I was born and raised in the state of Michigan. I’ve grown up along the coasts of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. I have always enjoyed, loved, and respected these magnificent and powerful bodies of water. To see them abused and exploited, has set me on a path of activism against unbridled corporate greed.

I simply hope to leave the world a better place than I found it.

Via We Are Change


Luke Rudkowski is an independent journalist, activist, live streamer and founder of

33 Comments on "The Corporate Rape of the Great Lakes"

  1. Ted Heistman | May 5, 2014 at 10:16 am |

    The Business of the United States is business…

  2. Ted Heistman | May 5, 2014 at 10:16 am |

    Looks like Nestle is pulling a “Cliven Bundy” on the Great Lakes

    • Number1Framer | May 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm |

      What do you suppose the corpos’ version of the militia and oath keepers is? The police and entire governmental system of the US?

      • Ted Heistman | May 5, 2014 at 8:43 pm |

        pretty much. This is why I am questioning my former Libertarian sentiments. I might think its great to protest having to pay Federal income taxes, but how can I then turn around and complain about these giant corporations who don’t? I’d have to give them a free pass in not paying taxes as well.

        As far as The State using violence for the benefit of elites, that is par for the course but I would have to say the struggle for democracy is a better way to go than “everyman for himself”

        The corporations can be held accountable, its happened before.

        • Number1Framer | May 6, 2014 at 1:23 am |

          Gonna be tough to hold corporations accountable when it seems they pull all the strings and write all laws and regulations (ALEC anyone?). A movement of not paying taxes would be great, but once it reached critical mass it would be shut down by cutting social programs before others like defense and backroom private contracts. I’m afraid it would starve the poorest among society (another wedge issue) rather than starving the beast it would be targeting. Also anyone who organized such a thing would probably be smeared, blackballed, V&, and put away in short order.

          • Ted Heistman | May 6, 2014 at 10:24 am |

            Yeah, it will be tough. It would take a member of the Aristocracy, who has strong principles and is a bit of a bad ass. That is my impression of FDR. He was a bit of a dictator, maybe even the most recent President to actually have a pair of balls. He reformed a lot of things.

          • Oginikwe | May 7, 2014 at 8:08 am |

            It’s not so tough. Just stop playing the consumer game. In the past two years, consumers have had a big impact in many areas by doing that. For example, GMO labeling is inevitable. They are fighting it but as companies decide that they can make more money producing and labeling things as non-GMO, it’s happening anyway. Even as they try to make our growing our own food and the local food movement harder to do, they are failing because, in the end, it’s really hard to legislate a combined network of physically isolated individuals. That’s what built this country and that’s what will take it back. Thus, the moves to take control of the Internet: that is cutting off the head of that particular snake.

          • Ted Heistman | May 7, 2014 at 11:59 pm |

            are you married? Lol! I am in love!

          • Well, it starts with you and me and Ted and anyone else who wants in. We still have numbers on our side–we still vote and whoever is voted in can be voted out but we are the ones who have to hold their feet to the fire.

            As Bishop Desmond Tutu put it: “How do you eat an elephant? A piece at a time. What is the ocean, but combined drops of water.”

          • Oginikwe | May 7, 2014 at 8:03 am |

            Nice, Matt.

            If you are the big, big tree

            We are the small axe

            Ready to cut you down (well sharp)

            To cut you down

            If you are the big, big tree, let me tell you that

            We are the small axe

            Ready to cut you down (well sharp)

            To cut you down

            Sharpened …

          • Matt Staggs | May 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm |

            Glad you liked it, brother. Kind of a personal anthem.

          • You do know, Matt, I hope, that not everyone who comes to your website is a “brother,” right?

          • Ted Heistman | May 7, 2014 at 11:56 pm |

            Show some leg or something!

          • I am! Can’t you see? Jeez, talk about short-sighted . . .

          • Number1Framer | May 7, 2014 at 9:19 pm |

            You take the first bite and if you don’t die, I’ll consider it…

          • Number1Framer | May 8, 2014 at 1:07 am |

            This was supposed to be in reply to something further up where it made sense…

          • No, trust me®, much better here

          • Oginikwe | May 8, 2014 at 6:51 pm |


  3. OH MY GOD!!!

    …oh wait…
    Big Profits™
    Theft of the Commons®
    …carry on…

    • Hadrian999 | May 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm |

      government is what prevents us from hanging the entire corporate board of nestle

      • Does it?
        Merika™ can’t even control it’s own currency anymore. That sound like a useful or powerful government?

        Besides, get rid of Big Government™, and Big Money™ & Big Religion™ rush in to fill the void.

        …which if you think about it, seems to be what they’re trying to maneuver the populace towards…

        • Hadrian999 | May 6, 2014 at 1:12 am |

          big money already runs the government, let them do their own dirty work, right now people are so cowed by generations of police propaganda and misplaced patriotism that many can’t break free. maybe if we really got a William Gibson future people would actually fight back

          • big money already runs the government, let them do their own dirty work

            …that was the point of buying all the mechanisms of government…
            They’re also well underway selling it off to themselves at the very reasonable rates, preparing for that moment when Big Government™ ostensibly gets folded down into a new feudal system with corporations as feudal lords, and the church as the church.

            I’d rather just watch it all burn at once, thank you.

          • Hadrian999 | May 6, 2014 at 2:00 am |

            one aspect I am curious regarding “folding down” the government is how the corporations will train their soldiers, there are plenty of mercenaries but they are all hired away from the military once their expensive training is complete, will we see real corporate armies with their own training programs

          • Blackwater Xe Academi shows us the way to Profit, Protection, & Piece Of Mind®

          • Hadrian999 | May 6, 2014 at 2:11 am |

            yes but the didn’t create their soldiers, they were poached away from government service. Can you imagine how strangerecruiting pitches for purely corporate soldier jobs would be without any patriotic trappings.

          • I grok that “they” didn’t literally create the soldiers, but given the revolving door between the military-industrial complex, the military, government, other misc. private industry I don’t know that those distinctions really matter any more.

            Merika™ is modeled on the Prussian War Machine™. The Prussians were mercenaries before they were nationalists.

            This is the recruiting pitch I’d go for:
            Justice, Killing, Liberty, Rape, Freedom, Torture, & FutureCurrency™®

            Eh, needs work. I can’t really commit to the subject matter.

          • Hadrian999 | May 6, 2014 at 2:48 am |

            almost makes you misty for the quaint days of the african bush wars and their small time mom and pop mercenary outfits

          • Kill The Savages!©
            It Is The Lord Thy God’s Will!®
            Tame The Dark Continent!Ⓞ
            Travel! Adventure! £££!℗

            …certainly was a Golden Age™ for copy…

  4. kowalityjesus | May 5, 2014 at 11:47 pm |

    Thanks for bringing attention to this commodification of a public resource, Luke. It is heinous and their ~1000s% profit should be taxed like crazy. Selling water from ourselves to ourselves has undoubtedly paid for many a Ferrari on Nestle’s board.

    I worked for clean water action in metro Detroit in the early aughts and they actually were working on raising awareness of the same issue involving Nestle. One of the important points they told us is, even though this is very bad, it is not connected to lower lake levels. This would have 99.99(9?)% to do with climate change and to a lesser extent natural fluctuations.

    We shouldn’t let the practice run amok, but it is not in itself actually tangibly harmful on this miniscule scale. If they built a pipeline to the American west? That would essentially be a new exiting river, and hence a problem.

  5. kowalityjesus | May 8, 2014 at 11:38 am |

    Granholm didst verily kick ass.

    • Oginikwe | May 8, 2014 at 6:51 pm |

      Yeah, I liked her. Snyder, though, not so much. And some of the crap the Republican state house has pulled is unconscionable.

Comments are closed.