I’ve ranted against the bottled water industry before. It’s a completely useless product for most people, who have perfectly good water in the taps. It privatizes water supplies for profit, which is antithetical to basic moral values. It drains local water sources and spreads that water across the world. Mostly, it just doesn’t need to exist in the United States. Yes, there needs to be bottled water to step in when vile Republicans poison the people of Flint or if you have high sulphur concentrations in your water, such as I have experienced in West Virginia. These are problems easily solved without half an aisle in Walmart dedicated to bottled water.
Understanding that this industry was unnecessary and wanting to reduce pollution, the Obama administration stopped the selling of bottled water in national parks. With plentiful drinking fountains, this was not a problem. But of course, Trump would not only repeal this rule, but also named a former bottled water industry lobbyist as deputy interior secretary. Of course, like every regulatory issue, the problem is not Donald Trump, but the Republican Party.
The decision came three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt is a former lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented one of the largest water bottlers in the United States, Nestlé Waters. Nestlé distributes the Deer Park brand.
Some Democratic senators called Bernhardt a “walking conflict of interest” during his confirmation hearing, because of his work on behalf of corporate interests opposed to Interior Department regulations to promote clean air and water.
Nestle Waters disputed any claim that Bernhardt might have acted on its behalf. “Claims… that Nestle Waters North America unduly influenced the National Parks Service to rescind its ban on bottled water are categorically false,” the company said in a statement. “No one in the General Counsel’s office at Nestle… has ever met or spoken to Mr. Bernhardt, and frankly was not familiar with him until these irresponsible claims were made.”
The administration’s critics saw an interesting coincidence. “Under Trump, the Department of the Interior appears to be working hand in hand with the bottled-water industry to do its bidding,” said Lauren DeRusha Florez, associate campaign director for Corporate Accountability International, a nonprofit groups that takes on the tobacco, fast-food and fossil-fuel industries.
Let’s not just hand the oil and gas on public lands to corporations, let’s hand them all our water too! After all, we’ve already allowed corporations to own our food supply through the revolting decisions that force farmers to buy seeds every year from Monsanto, ADM, and other agribusiness companies. Might as well just give Nestlé water too.