Trump Ends Obama's 'Water Bottle Ban'

Environmentalist policy tried to ban plastic water bottles from national parks

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August 22, 2017

The Trump administration is ending a policy implemented by former president Barack Obama that attempted to ban water bottles at national parks.

The National Park Service announced last week it was ending the so-called Water Bottle Ban, which the Obama administration implemented in 2011 to "reduce our carbon footprint."

"In its commitment to providing a safe and world-class visitor experience, the National Park Service is discontinuing Policy Memorandum 11-03, commonly referred to as the 'Water Bottle Ban,'" the agency said in a statement.

The National Park Service said the policy was counterproductive and only 23 out of 417 parks implemented the ban.

"The 2011 policy, which encouraged national parks to eliminate the sale of disposable water bottles, has been rescinded to expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks," the agency said. "The ban removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks. The change in policy comes after a review of the policy's aims and impact in close consultation with Department of the Interior leadership."

The Obama policy memorandum "strongly encouraged" parks to stop selling plastic bottles of water for the "great symbolism" it would convey, even though the policy "ran counter" to the administration's "healthy food initiative."

Parks could ban the sale of water bottles after they conducted a lengthy review, which included a consultation with the public health office, "visitor education" on water bottles, and submitting to a yearly evaluation of their program.

The Obama administration said banning plastic water bottles could have a "significant environmental impact" by training Americans into being more "environmentally responsible" in their homes.

"Such a policy will allow the NPS and park partners to reduce their environmental footprint, introduce visitors to green products and the concept of environmentally responsible purchasing, and give them the opportunity to take that environmental ethic home and apply it in their daily lives," the policy stated. "It will also be a significant step in reducing our carbon footprint."

The Trump administration now says Americans should be able to decide if they want to buy a bottle of water to stay hydrated on a hike.

"While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park, particularly during hot summer visitation periods," said acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds.

The change is the latest unraveling of Obama's legacy. Last week the Trump administration removed the former president's private bikeshare from the White House grounds.