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WIN! Grand Canyon National Park to ban the sale of bottled water

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Indian Country-Today Media Network reports, “Plastic water bottles make up about 20% of the waste and 30% of all recyclables collected in the Grand Canyon National Park, according to an Associated Press article, but that is about to change. The National Parks Service has announced that a ban on the sale of bottled water will go into effect within the next 30 days. Visitors will be encouraged to use refillable containers, although they will not be prohibited from buying bottled water off the park premises and bringing it in with them.”

“The ban was proposed and approved in spring 2010, and looked set to be implemented January 1, 2011, according to a New York Times article, but then plans were halted, and controversy ensued. Former Park director Stephen P. Martin was one of a few individuals who described eleventh-hour interference by the Coca-Cola Company. In mid-December 2010, Martin told the Times, ‘his superiors told him … that Coca-Cola, which distributes water under the Dasani brand and has donated more than $13 million to the parks, had registered its concerns about the bottle ban through the [National Parks] foundation, and that the project was being tabled. His account was confirmed by park, foundation and company officials.’ …Weeks later, the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released an unflattering internal e-mail from NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis. It read, in part, ‘While I applaud the intent [of the ban], there are going to be consequences, since Coke is a major sponsor of our recycling efforts.'”

“PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch continued to apply pressure (and the ban was won)… (Ruch says), ‘While we are happy that Director Jarvis has reversed course, the record clearly shows intense public scrutiny forced this abrupt U-turn — it did not result from a dispassionate or open decision-making process. … We hope this episode will limit the role of corporate donors in park management decisions.'”

The Council of Canadians congratulates the efforts of PEER and others who overcame opposition from Coca-Cola to win the bottled water ban in the Grand Canyon National Park.