The Trump administration nixed former President Barack Obama’s ban on selling plastic bottles at all national parks, according to the Department of the Interior.
“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,” Acting National Park Service (NPS) Director Michael Reynolds said in a statement released Wednesday.
A 2011 directive from the Obama administration allowed park officials to ban the sale of water bottles at national parks but allowed bottled soft drinks and juices.
The purpose of the directive was to reduce the sale of plastic bottles throughout the National Park System.
Park Service officials said that only 23 of the 417 national parks in the system, adding that the policy took away “the healthiest beverage choice” available to visitors.
Some of the national parks that implemented the policy include the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Mount Rushmore.
The Obama administration’s reasoning for putting the policy in place was to reduce the National Park Service’s carbon footprint as part of their Green Parks Plan.
The Park Service spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in some locations to put new water-filling stations at the Grand Canyon and at Zion National Park, not including the amount of money the park service lost from water bottle sales.
According to the government-spending advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste, the park service spent $288,900 on ten water stations at the Grand Canyon and $447,200 on three water stations at Zion. The water stations require constant maintenance, or else they can harbor bacteria and disease.
Former NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis admitted that the ban on plastic water bottle sales complicated efforts to provide healthier food options at parks, and worried it could affect people suffering from health problems.
The park service still encourages visitors to recycle all plastic bottles and utilize all free water bottle filling stations.