“Recreationalists” are free to pursue a full range of “hydration options” when visiting national parks, according to the National Park Service (NPS). In a statement, they announced they’ve ended a policy that asked national parks to stop selling disposable plastic water bottles.
The 6-year old policy, implemented during the Obama administration and meant to aid the environment by reducing pollution and plastic waste, has been lifted, according to the NPS.
“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,” read the statement by acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds.
Reynolds said that in order to “expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks,” they’ve changed the policy. Now individuals can bring whatever hydration method they choose during a visit to a national park, which Reynolds says is important “particularly during hot summer visitation periods,”
The policy was less than effective, as the NPS reports that only 23 of the 417 sites asked to implement the policy had done so.
The change is not free from controversy, however, according to The Washington Post. A report in the publication links the change to David Bernhardt, who was just confirmed as deputy secretary for the Department of the Interior.
Bernhardt, they report, is a former lobbyist. He happened to previously work for a law firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has reportedly represented Nestlé Waters, “one of the largest water bottlers in the United States.”
The Post says, according to critics, that the change is too coincidental. But Nestlé Waters denied the allegation that Bernhardt was influenced by them. In a statement, they say any such claims are “categorically false.”
“No one in the General Counsel’s office at Nestlé… has ever met or spoken to Mr. Bernhardt,” the statement reportedly said. They claim they were “not familiar with him until these irresponsible claims were made.”
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