Grand Canyon Bottle Ban

It is encouraging to learn that the National Parks Service has finally initiated the ban on bottled water sales in the Grand Canyon area. The clutter associated with these throwaway containers has no place in one of America's prime natural wonders. We can only hope this policy will be adopted in this country's other wilderness recreational areas.

It is interesting to note that in May of 2010, the National Parks Service announced that the sale of plastic water bottles within the Park boundaries would be banned as of Dec. 31, 2010, a full fifteen months prior to the present decree. However, making a quick turnabout in a letter dated Dec. 22, 2010 Mr. Steve Martin, Superintendent of the NPS announced that the proposed ban would be delayed. This reversal caught the attention of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), who put out a news release on Nov. 11, 2011 suggesting that this change in plans was a result of corporate pressure from the Coca Cola Company. PEER requested records from the NPS on this policy u-turn. They were refused and PEER consequently launched a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. Although some documents were obtained, the NPS gave no explanation for the sudden reversal. PEER was told by NPS employees that a major donation by Coca Cola to the National Park Foundation was contingent on the ban being cancelled. A little internet searching did reveal that in a June 13, 2007 press release, Coca Cola pledged a committment of $2.5 million over five years to the National Parks Foundation as a "Proud Partnership to focus on trail restoration, park stewrdship and visitor experience." Coca Cola is a major seller of water in plastic bottles under the Dasani brand name.

Did corporate pressure delay this important initiative? Maybe, some day, the pertinent documents will appear. In any case, we can be thankful that the National Park Service has finally chosen to take the right action to protect those lands under their stewardship.

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