For the past six years, there has been a ban on selling bottled water in National Parks. The ban was put in place by the Obama administration in 2011 and aimed at reducing plastic pollution.
The Trump administration ended that ban Wednesday afternoon.
The Washington Post points out that the decision came three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt is a former lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented one of the largest water bottlers in the United States, Nestlé Waters. Nestlé distributes the Deer Park brand water.
The International Bottled Water Association, an outspoken opponent of the ban applauded the decision because it recognizing “the importance of making safe, healthy, convenient bottled water available to the millions of people from around the world who want to stay well hydrated while visiting national parks,”
A previous memorandum from the National Park Service’s facility management division said, “National parks, as premier tourist destinations, use taxpayer dollars to manage the burden of discarded plastic water bottles, Notably, this is a relatively new financial burden, with global sales of bottled water quadrupling between 1990 and 2005.”
In fact, a report from Grand Canyon National Park estimated that water bottles constituted 30 percent of the garbage the park recycled.
23 National Parks had already instituted the ban, and the rest were preparing for the change. Those that have visited a National Park in the past few years may have noticed that numerous water stations have been installed as an answer to the bottle ban.
Wednesday, acting director Michael Reynolds issued a statement that said going forward the parks will offer bottled water and the water stations to serve visitors.
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that 18 national parks had already implemented this policy. New information recently released by the NPS shows 23 parks had implemented the policy.