Government Report: The NPS ban on bottled water was working. So why did the Trump administration reverse it?

Designated water bottle filling stations have been installed in high traffic areas on both rims of the park, making it easier than ever before to refill your water bottle. Credit: NPS

A May 2017 report from the National Park Service said the ban on bottled water at National Parks was working. But the report was not made public until September 22, more than a month after the Trump administration reversed the ban.

A FIOA request ultimately led to the release of the findings which were quietly made available last Friday afternoon.

The ban on water bottles was put in place in 2011, with the goal to reduce pollution and lower the recycling burden on the public parks. The new rules allowed parks to voluntarily phase out the sale of disposable plastic water bottles and install water fountains instead. As of 2017, 23 out of 417 parks were in the program.

However, on August 16, the Trump Interior Department, headed by Ryan Zinke reversed the six-year ban allowing the park service to sell bottled water.

“This newly released report makes it clear as day that the Trump Administration will continue to deny science, research, and facts in its efforts to prioritize big corporations at the expense of our wildlife and environment.”

– Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)

The water bottle lobby applauded Zinke’s move and environmentalist cried foul.

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The NPS report states that preventing the sale, use and disposal of bottled water had an annual savings of 1.3 – 2 million water bottles per year. They also estimate that the ban would save 276-419 cubic yards of landfill space per year.plastic bottles

“The policy further demonstrates the commitment of the NPS to environmental stewardship, to reducing the environmental footprint of the NPS, and to the concept of sustainability,” said the NPS report.

But the findings were not mentioned when the Trump administration reversed course in August.

Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) responded with legislation this week to reinestate the ban.

“The Trump Administration’s rationale for reversing the ban on water bottle sales in National Parks is nonsensical and nonexistent, especially given the fact they actively ignored the Park Service’s own findings on the issue,” said Rep. Quigley.

“This newly released report makes it clear as day that the Trump Administration will continue to deny science, research, and facts in its efforts to prioritize big corporations at the expense of our wildlife and environment.”

A quick look on OpenSecrets.Org shows that The International Bottled Water Association spent nearly five times more on lobbying in 2016 than it did before the ban was enacted.

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The International Bottled Water Association spent nearly five times more on lobbying in 2016 than it did before the ban was inacted. Credit: opensecrets.org

“The bottled water industry has led a years-long campaign against this commonsense policy, all to protect its bottom line,” Lauren DeRusha Florez of Corporate Accountability International told the Washington Post “The fact that Trump administration officials knew the benefits of this policy back in May but still decided to rescind it… sure looks to me like the bottled water industry’s lobbying dollars at work.”

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