In response to a recent lawsuit challenging the validity of the expired Nestle Waters special use permit to bottle water from the San Bernardino National Forest, the Forest Service asserted that the permit remains valid because Nestle Waters requested that it be renewed in 1987. The Forest Service cited to a federal statute which states that, when a permit holder submits a timely request for a renewal of its permit or a new permit, its existing federal license does not expire until the agency makes a decision on the application. In this matter, Nestle Waters’ special use permit expired in 1988, but Nestle sent a letter to the agency in 1987 requesting that it be renewed. The Forest Service did not move forward on the application until the lawsuit was filed in 2016.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs have argued that the letter sent in by Nestle Waters did not constitute a proper request for a new license and therefore cannot be the basis for the permit remaining valid for nearly 30 years. The court has requested that the parties submit briefs identifying the specific legal requirements for an application for a renewed or new license.