Food & Water Watch and allies are urging Rep. Keith Rothfus to stop working with the bottled water industry to promote use of bottled water in national parks. In July, Rep. Rothfus put forward an amendment, passed by a voice vote, which prevents the National Park Service from using taxpayer funds to implement its 2011 policy aimed to reduce and recycle plastic bottles in national parks.
“Plastic bottles, particularly those used by bottled water companies, introduce needless waste into the environment, as the vast majority are not recycled,” said Sam Bernhardt, an organizer for Food & Water Watch. “While parks are empowered to ban the sale of bottled water, Rep. Keith Rothfus is leading the charge to reverse this. This is an obvious give away to the bottled water industry and its lobbyists, and will introduce needless waste into our national parks.”
“The International Bottled Water Association’s outrageous attempt to use its economic and political clout to sabotage what the New York Times calls ‘an excellent strategy’ to protect our beautiful national parks is a clear-cut case of an abusive industry putting profit over our precious natural resources,” said John Stewart, deputy campaigns director at Corporate Accountability International. “In light of this aggressive industry attempt to trash our parks, we urge other Members of Congress to stand with the dozens of National Parks, like the Grand Canyon, that are preserving our environment by going bottled water free.”
In 2012, the National Parks Service Green Parks Plan set a goal to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills by half by 2015. Encouraging progress toward this important environmental goal has been made; to date as many as 75 parks have gone bottled-water free. Plastic water beverage containers, particularly single use water bottles, represent a significant threat to the environment. About 77 percent of PET plastic water bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills, as litter or incinerated. Zion National Park, for instance, estimates that it has already eliminated the annual sale of 60,000 bottles of water, the equivalent of 5,000 pounds of plastic not entering the waste stream.
Rep. Rothfus introduced the amendment in July. In September he received a $1,000 contribution from the International Bottled Water Association PAC. This month, Rep. Rothfus was a featured speaker at the International Bottled Water Association where he was praised for introducing the amendment.
“Rep. Rothfus’s efforts are a direct result of special interest lobbying, an obvious means of pandering to the bottled water industry. Banning bottled water in parks is an important step forward in preserving the environment of our public lands and moving us away from our dependency on bottled water, while reminding corporations that they’re not in charge of writing policies for national parks,” noted Bernhardt.