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Trump Eliminates Plastic Water Bottle Ban in National Parks, Removes White House Bikeshare Station
The National Park Service (NPS) announced Wednesday that it has rescinded the 2011 "Water Bottle Ban" that allowed parks to prohibit the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. That same day, news emerged that the Trump administration removed a nine-slot Capital Bikeshare station at the White House that was requested and installed during the Obama years and used by staffers.
The NPS said that the bottled water ban "removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks." Revocation of the 2011 memorandum is effective immediately.
"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 NPS director Michael T. Reynolds explained.
According to the Wilderness Society, 23 national parks had adopted the policy, including Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Zion National Park. The group said the Water Bottle Ban—an effort under President Obama's Green Parks Plan to promote the use of tap water and refillable bottles on federal lands—helped parks "simultaneously reduce park waste and carbon emissions."
But as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the water bottle ban was opposed by the beverage industry that had long lobbied to change the policy.
Watchdog groups criticized the initiative. "Just as we've seen across the board with the Trump administration, this is an example of the industry working behind the scenes to protect its profits," Lauren DeRusha Florez, associate campaign director at Corporate Accountability International, told the Chronicle. "Plastic water bottles have a tremendous environmental impact."
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, was far from pleased with the announcement. "This action puts the NPS firmly on the side of major corporations that make up the bulk of the bottled water industry," she said. "This latest move is yet another attempt to weaken the policies that protect our vital, vulnerable natural resources."
Meanwhile, Trump has also nixed a Capital Bikeshare dock on 17th Street and State Place that was set up in 2010.
District Department of Transportation spokesperson Terry Owens told the Washingtonian that the station was removed earlier this week at the Trump administration's request.
It's unclear what the White House had against the bikeshare station. One suggestion, a DC resident explained to Breitbart, is that the Trump administration wanted to trim spending. Trump's budget proposal in May cuts funds for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) act, which funded construction for many of DC's Capital Bikeshare stations, the Right-wing publication pointed out.
On the other hand, as Raw Story noted, "Capital Bikeshare users average saving $631 per year on personal travel cost, meaning the removal of the 9-slot station could cost White House staff $5,679 in increased transportation expenditures."
Here are some responses to the move on social media:
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Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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