Last July, Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-PA) introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill that funds the National Park Service. Rep. Rothfus, who seemingly never expressed a deep interest in the workings of our National Parks before last summer, wanted to stop the parks from prohibiting the sale of bottled water. That September, the IBWA PAC—the political arm of the International Bottled Water Association—gave Rep. Rothfus a $1,000 contribution. In November of 2015, Rep. Rothfus was a featured speaker at an IBWA event where he was praised for introducing the amendment.
Luckily the amendment failed to make it into law because of opposition from Food & Water Watch and our allies. Instead, the IBWA had to settle for Congress directing the National Park Service to report on their reasons for allowing individual parks to prohibit bottled water sales.
But those reasons are obvious to anyone who stops to look at the issue. A study by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility showed that in most parks surveyed, disposable water bottles are the single largest source of trash that parks must pay to haul away, making up an average of almost 30 percent of parks’ solid waste. Adopting a bottled-water-free policy allowed Zion National Park to be a huge “sustainability success story,” according to the National Park Service. Zion has prevented 5,000 pounds of plastic from entering the waste stream and increased reusable water bottle sales by 78 percent.
But the IBWA was not going to settle for a mere justification of an obviously vital and successful policy. Instead, it decided to upgrade its congressional purchases. Although Rep. Rothfus received another $2,000 from the IBWA PAC in March of 2016, the IBWA also funneled money in 2015 to another Member of Congress—Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chairman of its Interior and Environment Subcommittee. Rep. Calvert has the power to make sure the language stopping the National Parks Service bottled water policy is included in the appropriations coming out of his committee.
So, despite never having given Rep. Calvert a dime before 2015 the IBWA has made Rep. Calvert its apparent new best friend. During this election cycle it has made seven contributions totaling $8,000. That’s twice the amount it has ever given to a Congressman during one election cycle. And its investment is paying off. Despite never having expressed much interest in the beverage sales policies of the National Parks before now, Rep. Calvert has made sure that the language stopping the Parks from prohibiting bottled water sales is in the House’s appropriations bill currently moving through Congress.
It’s outrageous when the corrupting influence of money in politics is so obvious and so blatant. We managed to keep this language out of last year’s appropriations and we can do so again. Sign this petition to ask your member of Congress to oppose language that would end the National Park Service’s policy of allowing our parks to ban bottled water sales.