Bottled Water Critique: The Senators Will Choose For You

By September 11, 2008Energy, Global Warming

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality held a hearing yesterday, “Quality and Environmental Impacts of Bottled Water.”

Anti-market environmental scolds have gained some political purchase in making bottled water one of their major targets among consumer goods, attacking the packaging, the processing, the costs and the image. Joining them in the critique are municipal government types, seeking leverage to increase taxes and fees to pay for city services.

Motivating this attack and giving it sex appeal for the media is the sense of indignation. “Pay for water? Why, why…Harumph.”

But do we really want a society where an offended elite is able to pick and choose which consumer products the public can buy? More than we already do?

From the testimony of Joseph Doss, President and CEO of the International Bottled Water Association:

Bottled water is a safe, convenient, healthful packaged beverage product that consumers find refreshing and use to stay hydrated. In many instances, consumers choose bottled water because it does not have the calories, caffeine, or other ingredients that they may wish to eliminate or moderate in their diets. And with the rise in obesity and diabetes in the United States, any actions that discourage the consumption of bottled water are not in the public interest.

Diabetes, eh? Well, Mr. Doss knows the game, obviously, and his prepared testimony is quite thorough, responding effectively point by point to the criticisms of the industry from the environmental scolds and municipal taxers.  And he alludes to the argument we find most compelling when he calls bottled water a “consumer-driven market.”

That is to say…

“I like bottled water. I’m willing to buy it. It’s not illegal. So why in the world is the Senate spending its time ‘investigating’ the industry?”

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