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Quigley Introduces the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act to Restore Obama-era Guidelines on Water Bottle Sales

Sep 13, 2017
Press Release
Bill Promotes Conservation, Protects America’s Pristine Natural Sites from Trump Administration Attacks Against Common-sense Sustainability Efforts

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves as Vice-Chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC), introduced the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act to combat the Trump Administration’s August 18 announcement instructing the National Park Service (NPS) to reverse an Obama-era guideline banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in national park facilities.

“President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke’s decision to overturn the common-sense plastic water bottle ban in National Parks is a clear reminder that this Administration will continually bow to the agendas of profit-driven corporations at the expense of our National Parks, wildlife, and environment,” said Rep. Quigley. “We know that seventy percent of plastic water bottles find their way to landfills and waterways; and in National Parks, those bottles build up along trails and streams, harming our pristine sites and endangering the plants and animals that call them home. Our National Parks serve as shining examples for how to treat our planet, while allowing Americans and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy our nation’s awe-inspiring natural heritage. Reinstating the sensible, flexible ban on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles helps ensure that these public spaces—from Yellowstone and the Everglades to Yosemite and Zion—are protected for future generations.”

“Rep. Quigley’s bill would ensure the National Park Service can continue building on a successful waste-reduction program,” said Alex Taurel, deputy legislative director at the League of Conservation Voters. “The Park Service has a strong record of conservation, preserving some of our most important cultural and natural resources for more than 100 years. We commend Rep. Quigley’s environmental leadership and his support for innovative programs that help protect our public lands and waters for future generations.”

It is no question that bottled water has a substantial environmental footprint and puts wildlife in danger. The Reducing Waste in National Parks Act would reinstate and make permanent the Obama-era guidelines that allowed the National Park Service to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in parks where possible. Our National Parks spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and that means many parks are in hot climates or don’t have easy access to running water. This bill addresses the complexity of banning plastic water bottles by allowing NPS regional directors great discretion in how to implement the policy and encourages them to develop a visitor education strategy to explain the rationale for the program.

Following the implementation of the original ban on plastic water bottles, parks that were able to join the effort saw real results. 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. This is a prime example of how encouraging the use of reusable bottles and making them readily available can reduce waste and act as a model for best practices in sustainability.

Original co-sponsors of the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act include Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), David Cicilline (RI-01), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), David Price (NC-04), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), and Niki Tsongas (MA-03).

As Vice Chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, Rep. Quigley has long been an outspoken defender of the environment, sustainability efforts, and protecting America’s public lands and wildlife. Earlier this year, he visited Rocky Mountain National Park during his #RepInTheRockies tour to see the impacts of climate change firsthand and learn more about combating global warming through sound science, mitigation, adaptation, and education. Rep. Quigley has continually called on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to engage in a discussion on the merits of man-made climate change and the need to address its causes and consequences. As a life-long member of the Sierra Club with a score of 98% from the League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard, Rep. Quigley consistently leads efforts in Congress to protect the health of our natural environment for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.