Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Freshwater Tissue. RIP.

When the rally for the pulp mill was canceled, I was holding out hope that it found funding. Instead, this is the end of the line. Sad day for good paying jobs.

October 20, 2009

Green Manufacturing Mill Unable to Obtain Federal Stimulus Funds, Closes Permanently

Freshwater Tissue would have created nearly 3,000 green jobs for economically devastated Northern California

Humboldt County, CA- Freshwater Tissue, California’s last pulp mill and the only chlorine-free/dioxin-free mill in the United States plans to permanently close. The current owners of the Samoa, CA pulp mill were unable to obtain federal stimulus funds to convert the Samoa mill into an integrated tissue plant. The plant would have served as an exemplary model of responsible and environmentally sound American manufacturing.

In spite of the Samoa mill’s status as the only chlorine-free/dioxin-free pulp mill in the United States, the mill has struggled since the mid 1990’s to compete with foreign competition. When the new owners acquired the Samoa mill in February of 2009, their vision was to make the mill competitive by manufacturing consumer-ready, eco-friendly, chlorine-free toilet tissue. The vision included consuming by-products of the Redwood forest, such as tanoak trees, which are a valueless, disease-stricken hardwood tree species that at present is an extreme fire hazard to the Redwood region. The company’s vision had broad support from environmental advocacy groups, educators, foresters, community leaders and labor unions. Unfortunately, the banking industry collapsed, and both federal and state lawmakers, including Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA), were unable to help fund a shovel ready, job creating, and renewable stimulus project. As a result, 425 direct and 2,500 indirect green jobs have been lost permanently for California’s North Coast region.

Rick Hind, Legislative Director of Greenpeace said of the closure, “It’s outrageous that the federal government, which just offered $55 million for experimental ‘clean coal’ technologies, could not find a penny for a proven chlorine-free pulp mill and the green jobs it would support.”

Labor union leaders have also expressed their profound disappointment. Greg Pallesen, Vice President of The Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers remarked that, “The closure of the Samoa, California mill is a prime example of failed U.S. financial and trade policies, which continue to be the main cause of massive job losses in the U.S. At the same time as the “green” Samoa manufacturing site is closed forever, large polluting mills in China and elsewhere are being brought online in order to supply U.S. consumers. The end result destroys working families here at home while increasing pollution worldwide. Shame on our politicians who do nothing but talk about “green” job creation. This facility is closed forever, and the families and communities in Northern California will suffer for years to come.”

Gregg Gold, Sierra Chapter President, spoke on behalf of the North Group and Redwood chapters representing over 10,000 members. “Of local importance is the fact that the Samoa mill would have provided a viable market for Tanoak trees, which the timber industry treats as an undesirable weed. At present, Tanoak trees are eradicated by spraying them with chemicals to halt their growth or kill them. This process tends to make Tanoak quite flammable, which endangers the entire forest including the Redwoods where Tanoak is most prevalent. In sum, we believe Mr. Simpson’s vision had the potential to transform an entire industry, and are sorry to see his vision disappear.”

“I left Samoa in 1996 after eliminating the use of chlorine at the pulp mill,” said Bob Simpson, President of Freshwater Tissue Company. “I returned to Samoa in 2009 with a vision of converting the Nation’s only chlorine-free pulp mill into an integrated tissue mill, and providing sustainable jobs for a green economy. In a normal economic climate, such a plant would have easily found funding by green tech investors. The current financial crisis made this nearly impossible so we turned to President Obama’s green stimulus plan for support. We had hoped that our Federal and State lawmakers would help us obtain Federal stimulus funding which was designed precisely for green manufacturing projects that are sustainable and create living-wage American jobs. I am extremely disappointed and saddened by the lack of support we received from our Congressional representatives. Humboldt County needed these jobs and America needed this green technology.”


Anonymous said...

sad, very sad :(

Anonymous said...

not surprising, but definitely sad. A good vision, a bad reality.

Tom Sebourn said...

I was actually hoping the same thing when I heard the rally was cancelled.
It seemed like a viable plan. Hire local truck drivers and loggers to get the tan oak.
No new jobs and we have to import more products. And we still have the dead or dying tan oaks to deal with. They will make good firewood, hopefully in somebody's fire place and not on the mountain sides.

Rose said...

Tom, this is the brave new world. Progressive destruction. Import everything because nothing can be produced here. Outsource everything because no one can meet the requirements here, nor afford to try.

You business depends on a viable business community. The wasteland is right around the corner, and you, if you support Progressives, bring about your own destruction.

Sad thing is, everyone else gets brought down too.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, back to the good old days of the Teepee burners.

Anonymous said...

Thank God toilet paper production will not be the future of Humboldt County.

Rambo said...


Anonymous said...

To anonymous 4:58
What do you wipe with?

Anonymous said...

Sad but no big surprise. At least people can plan and move forward now.
Tom Reilly

Anonymous said...

Alright. Clean air and water again.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that Freshwater is still looking at their options.
May not be dead yet- depending on the politicos.
Could it be true?