Shortly before going to press, we were expecting to run our fifth story on the opposition to Mitsubishi's plans to build a salt plant in Baja California, this one indicating that 75 percent of Japanese citizens were against the project. Now, we are happy to replace it with this, our last article on the subject:
After 5-year battle, Mitsubishi ends Baja Mexico salt plant project
provided by International Fund for Animal Welfare
n a joint statement, Ernest Zedillo, President of Mexico, and James Brumm, VP of North American Operations for the Mitsubishi Corporation, announced this month at a press conference in Mexico City that their long-standing plans to build the world's largest salt plant at Laguna San Ignacio, in Baja California Sur, Mexico, are cancelled. Laguna San Ignacio is the last pristine breeding ground of the California Gray Whale and home to numerous other endangered plant and animal species.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and its nearly 2 million supporters worldwide feels proud and elated that they were able to protect this magical nature reserve forever. "IFAW applauds Mitsubishi's turnaround from environmental outlaw to environmental champion,'' says Jared Blumenfeld, IFAW's Director of Habitat.
"I have taken the decision to instruct the Mexican government representatives on the Board of ESSA to propose the definitive cancellation of the project,'' said President Zedillo earlier today. Says Blumenfeld, "This decision by President Zedillo highlights Mexico's long-standing commitment to the protection of whales and wildlife in Mexico.'' According to Herminio Blanco, Mexico's Minister of Trade and Industry and Chairman of the Board of ESSA, "Mit-subishi totally supports the decision of the government of Mexico.''
IFAW's Blumenfeld credited this victory as people power at work. More than a million people wrote to Mitsubishi to protest the salt plant. More than 40 California cities passed resolutions against the proposed project and fifteen mutual funds played a critical role in persuading Mit-subishi to cancel the plant. More than 30 leading scientists and a coalition of environmental organizations, including more than 50 in Mexico, have shown that a united effort can produce this sort of landmark result. Mitsubishi is the world's largest corporation, with more than $230-billion in revenues annually. IFAW has now called an end to its "Mitsubishi: Don't Buy It" campaign. "At the end of the day, the campaign was successful because it had an impact on Mitsubishi's bottom line and reputation,'' says Blumenfeld.
A more than 3500-page Environmental Impact Statement was released today, and while Mitsubishi claimed the report would have paved the way for them to proceed, the company admitted global pressure led them to decide to cancel plans for the project. All the environmental groups involved are committed to ensuring the economic sustainability of the local people living in and around Laguna San Ignacio.
Joel Reynolds, Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), says, "This is a major victory for IFAW, NRDC and our millions of supporters around the world and shows what motivated people can do in the face of an horrendous environmental threat. It also shows that new models of activism -- using the internet -- to get the unfiltered truth to environmentally concerned citizens can work.''