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

Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:49pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Freshwater Tissue would have created nearly 3,000 green jobs for economically
devastated Northern California
HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif.--(Business Wire)--
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." 

For more information, photos of the mill, or to schedule an interview with Bob
Simpson, please contact Dale Didion.

The Didion Group
Dale Didion, 202-544-5430

Copyright Business Wire 2009