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Quigley Introduces Legislation to Restore Ban on Plastic Water Bottle Sales in National Parks

Sep 6, 2019
Press Release

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC), introduced the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act, to restore Obama-era guidance banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in national park facilities, where possible. The bill is being introduced following Quigley’s two-day tour of Yellowstone National Park, where he learned first-hand about the devastating impacts of climate change on Yellowstone and our National Parks. Representatives Deb Haaland (NM0-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02), who participated in the tour of Yellowstone, are original co-sponsors of the legislation.

“Throughout this week we have seen for ourselves the majesty of our nation’s first National Park and it has served as a critical reminder of what we stand to lose if we don’t preserve our national treasures,” said Quigley. “Too often, plastic water bottles end up polluting national parks and clogging our waterways. Reinstating President Obama’s common sense, flexible ban on single-use plastic water bottles will help ensure that our natural wonders are around for generations to come.”

“Our country is home to beautiful places that sustain local economies and should be around for future generations to enjoy, but these places are put at risk for the convenience of single-use plastics. Federal agencies can take the lead and promote ways to keep our ecosystems healthy. Banning plastic bottle sales in our National Parks makes us more thoughtful about the plastic waste in our National Parks. We can all play a role by carrying around a reusable water bottle,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

In 2017, the Trump administration reversed Obama-era guidelines that allowed the National Park Service to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in parks where possible. As a result of the original ban on plastic water bottles, 23 out of 417 national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, implemented restrictions on bottled water sales and National Parks experienced real success in reducing plastic waste. Zion National Park in Utah eliminated the sale of 60,000 water bottles, or 5,000 pounds of plastic waste, by installing bottle-filling stations and selling affordable reusable bottles in their concession stands.

The legislation has ten original co-sponsors and has been endorsed by Corporate Accountability, Surfrider Foundation, League of Conservation Voters, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Climate Hawks Vote

“When the Trump administration rescinded the commonsense and effective policy that allowed our National Parks to go bottled-water free, it chose to satisfy the wishes of profit-driven corporations like Nestlé over people and the environment. Representative Quigley’s bill is a critical step toward protecting our public lands from plastic waste and advancing the will of people -- not the bottled water industry,” said Alissa Weinman, Senior Water Organizer for Corporate Accountability.

“Surfrider Foundation encourages our members and supporters to rise above plastics and bring their reusable water bottles wherever they go, including our beloved National Parks.  This legislation will help ensure that our parks can be free of single-use plastic bottle litter and is a necessary step in addressing the plight of plastic pollution worldwide," said Surfrider Foundation.

This week, Quigley led a group of five SEEC members on a tour of Yellowstone National Park. During the tour, the members saw the impact that climate change is having on the National Park System already. National Park Service scientists and experts also educated the members on the tactics they have deployed to combat the effects of climate change and the measures that could be implemented going forward to help adapt to coming climate impacts. The Reducing Waste in National Parks Act is just one federal initiative that will help these experts in their mission to preserve our nation’s precious natural treasures.