Craft Brewers to Biden: Protect Our Most Important Ingredient

Fifty-five craft breweries submitted a letter asking the administration to ensure their businesses—and their communities—maintain access to clean, safe waterways.

Credit: Ty Johnson for NRDC

Fifty-five craft breweries submitted a letter asking the administration to ensure their businesses—and their communities—maintain access to clean, safe waterways.


Craft breweries were not happy when the Trump administration tried—repeatedly—to roll back America’s clean water protections. Over the last four years, brewers have spoken out against attempts to strip federal protections from vulnerable waterways, weaken water pollution standards for coal-fired power plants, and create regulatory loopholes for pollution that travels into waterways through groundwater.

They had good reason to object: Water is their most important ingredient, and strong safeguards for this resource are crucial for breweries’ bottom line.

That’s why 55 craft breweries from every region of the country are asking the Biden administration to restore the protections that were slashed—and fast. Today they submitted a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and the agency’s Office of Water asking for swift action to ensure their businesses—and their communities—maintain access to clean, safe waterways.

Here’s what a few of them have to say about why they signed the letter:

“American craft breweries have earned an international reputation for brewing some of the best beer in the world. We rely on clean water as the base of all beer, and we need to protect our water sources. If not for all the other reasons, do it for the beer!”

—Abe Furth, Orono Brewing Company

“Clean water is an essential raw material for our business and crucial for the long-term vitality of our industry. Beyond our company, the Clean Water Act provides fundamental and critical protections for safe and resilient water sources for all communities and ecosystems nationwide.”

—Mandi McKay, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

“Water is vital to every living one of us. Our thoughts on this have nothing to do with political beliefs and everything to do with wanting thriving living spaces (and great craft beer) for many years to come. Please help us as a company, as individuals, and as a country to keep water sources safe and clean for all to use!”

—Carol Cochran, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company


Three Rivers and the Sierra Nevada mountains, a source of water for communities across California.

Credit: Alamy

All of the brewers that signed the letter are partners in NRDC’s Brewers for Clean Water campaign. The full text of their letter is below.

Michael Regan, Administrator
Radhika Fox, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Regan and Deputy Assistant Administrator Fox:

We urge you to undo the Trump administration’s harmful rollbacks to our nation’s clean water protections. After four years of attacks on the Clean Water Act, we are counting on you to restore strong safeguards for our most important ingredient.

Beer is mostly water, a resource that our businesses care about deeply. The quality of our source water significantly affects our finished product. Compounds present in brewing water can affect pH, aroma, and taste. Trace quantities of metals can affect the metabolism of yeast and the physical properties of beer, including its color and stability. Even small chemical disruptions in our water supply could influence the quality of our brews.

For breweries that depend on surface water, unexpected changes in water quality due to pollution can affect the brewing process and our bottom line. We need reliable sources of clean water to consistently produce the great beer that is key to our success. It is thanks in part to this important natural resource that the craft brewing industry contributes about $82.9 billion to the U.S. economy each year, along with more than 580,000 jobs.

Under the Trump administration, the EPA took several actions that threatened our sources of clean water. It stripped nationwide protections from wetlands and streams, ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence that these waterways are important to downstream water quality. It weakened water pollution standards for coal-burning power plants, the largest source of toxic water pollution in the United States. And it created legal loopholes for pollution discharges that travel into waterways through groundwater. Your predecessors at the agency implemented these changes over the objections of industries like ours that need clean water in order to grow and thrive.

We strongly support President Biden’s executive order of January 20, 2021 directing agencies to review the previous administration’s actions to determine whether they are inconsistent with the goals of “listen[ing] to the science,” “protect[ing] our environment,” “ensur[ing] access to clean air and water,” and “hold[ing] polluters accountable”; and, if so, to suspend, revise, or rescind those actions.

Two items on the fact sheet accompanying the executive order, which lists agency actions to be reviewed, are clearly inconsistent with those goals: the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” narrowing the definition of waters protected by the Clean Water Act, and the “Steam Electric Reconsideration Rule” weakening pollution limits for coal-fired power plants.  Craft brewers joined efforts to oppose both rules when they were proposed. They must be rescinded as soon as possible and replaced with new rules that are based on sound science.

We also urge you to add an additional action to the list: the agency’s recent guidance on applying the Supreme Court’s decision in Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund to pollution discharges that travel through groundwater before reaching surface waters. Craft brewers have urged both the agency and the Supreme Court to ensure that these discharges are controlled to keep our water safe for drinking and brewing.

Clean water is central to our long-term business success. Moreover, it is vital to the health and the economy of the communities where we live and work. We stand ready to support your efforts to implement the president’s executive order and strengthen our nation’s clean water protections.

Thank you for considering our views on this important matter.


Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
Aslan Brewing Company (Bellingham, WA)
Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO)
Backslope Brewing (Columbia Falls, MT)
Bale Breaker Brewing Company (Yakima, WA)
Bang Brewing (St. Paul, MN)
Baxter Brewing Co. (Lewiston, ME)
Bent Paddle Brewing Co. (Duluth, MN)
Bent Water Brewing Company (Lynn, MA)
Big Grove Brewery (Iowa City, IA)
BrewDog Brewing Company (Canal Winchester, OH)
Brewery 85 (Greenville, SC)
Brewery Techne/Bar Hygge (Philadelphia, PA)
Brewery Vivant (Grand Rapids, MI)
Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY)
Bull City Burger and Brewery (Durham, NC)
Cahaba Brewing Company (Birmingham, AL)
Earth Bread + Brewery (Philadelphia, PA)
Engrained Brewery & Restaurant (Springfield, IL)
Fibonacci Brewing Company (Cincinnati, OH)
Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Company (Winston-Salem, NC)
Flying Fish Brewing Co. (Somerdale, NJ)
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Greenstar Brewery (Chicago, IL)
Half Acre Beer Company (Chicago, IL)
Hanging Hills Brewing Company (Hartford, CT)
Horse & Dragon Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO)
Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)
Land-Grant Brewing Company (Columbus, OH)
Maine Beer Company (Freeport, ME)
Market Garden Brewery (Cleveland, OH)
Maui Brewing Co. (Kihei, HI)
Mill River Brewing (St. Albans City, VT)
MotoSonora Brewing Company (Tucson, AZ)
Naked River Brewing Company (Chattanooga, TN)
New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO)
Nod Hill Brewery (Ridgefield, CT)
North High Brewing Co. (Columbus, OH)
Old Bust Head Brewing Company (Warrentown, VA)
One World Brewing (Asheville, NC)
Orono Brewing Company (Orono, ME)
Pilot Project Brewing (Chicago, IL)
Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL)
Right Brain Brewery (Traverse City, MI)
Sedona Beer Co. (Sedona, AZ)
Short’s Brewing Company (Bellaire, MI)
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA)
Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, VA)
Temperance Beer Co. (Evanston, IL)
The Alchemist (Stowe, VT)
ThirstyBear Organic Brewery (San Francisco, CA)
Upslope Brewing Company (Boulder, CO)
Wild Onion Brewery (Lake Barrington, IL)
Wren House Brewing Co. (Phoenix, AZ)
Zed’s Beer (Marlton, NJ)


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