Washington, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley led Senate colleagues in the introduction of the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act. This legislation restores Obama-era guidance banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in national park facilities. Joining Merkley in support of this bill are U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Fetterman (D-PA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“Plastic pollution threatens our right to live in healthy communities and ability to enjoy the beauty of our national parks,” said Merkley, who is the Senate leader on combatting plastic production and pollution. “Single-use plastic production threatens our nation’s most special places, and inaction to protect these spaces is unacceptable if we want to ensure our treasured national parks are safeguarded for generations to come.”
A companion bill in the House was introduced earlier this year by U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL-05).
In 2017, the Trump administration reversed the Obama-era guidelines that allowed the National Park Service to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in parks. The policy had previously diverted between 1.3 and 2 million disposable water bottles, a savings of up to 111,743 pounds of plastic and 141 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Merkley has been a long-time leader and fierce advocate for reducing our nation’s plastic footprint. In the fall of 2021, Senator Merkley led colleagues in pressing the National Park Service to reinstate this policy to allow parks to voluntarily establish programs to eliminate disposable plastic water bottle sales.
Bill text can be found here.