Craft Brewers to EPA: Keep Protecting Clean Water

Hal Bergman

Last month, EPA asked the public to suggest regulations for possible modification or repeal. Instead, the agency got an earful from folks across the country—hundreds of thousands of them—demanding that our nation’s environmental safeguards be maintained or even strengthened.

The voices of Americans standing up for the health of the planet vastly outweighed the polluters pushing for rollbacks. And some of the most compelling voices speaking out in favor of environmental protections were craft brewers, who depend on clean water for their livelihoods.

Here’s what a few of them had to say. We hope EPA is listening.

“I own and operate a brewing company on the shores of Lake Michigan that relies on a clean, safe, and reliable source of water. Any changes to federal water regulations that negatively impact our ability to be ensured this would be detrimental to our business and the 75 people we employ.”

Matt Gallagher, Half Acre Beer Company (Chicago, IL)

“I'm very concerned about the proposed efforts to roll back clean water and other environmental safeguards. Our brewery relies on clean water for two reasons. One, our product is made with water and beer can only be as good as the water it is made with. If our drinking water goes down in quality, so does our beer. Second, our brewery is on the Milwaukee River. Downtown Milwaukee is having a rebirth and a building boom as never before seen and the river is a big part of the boom and a big part of our restaurant with people enjoying their days on the Riverwalk. ... If the rules are weakened so the river is not as clean and is not as healthy I would expect a decrease in business and revenue to our brewery, and a decrease in the downtown building boom for Milwaukee.”

Russell Klisch, Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)

“Clarity in regulation and the protection of natural resources are keys to economic development. Over the past 26 years we've learned that with smart regulation business thrives. We've grown from the basement of our co-founders' house in Fort Collins to a 1 million barrel per year brewing company with two breweries. We have been able to grow from 2 to 800 co-workers aided by the protection that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers guarantee for our water supply. Clean water is key to our success and protections afforded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are key to ensuring clean and abundant water supplies.”

Jenn Vervier, New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO)

“I am the owner of a craft brewery in Philadelphia. We produce over 20 varieties of beer each year, distribute in two states and currently employ 25 people. Clean water is at the heart of our business, without it we cannot make the beer we love. We rely on the EPA to keep our water sources clean, there is no substitute for the regulation and enforcement the provide. If clean water was no longer available to us, no piece of in-house equipment that we could afford could clean it for us, we couldn't afford to move and therefore would shut down. Please consider the fate of the nation's thousands of breweries when considering any changes to the rules or their enforcement.”

Tim Patton, Saint Benjamin Brewing Company (Philadelphia, PA)

“My business relies on clean water to produce quality craft beer for my local community. I believe it is more critical than ever NOT to weaken regulatory safeguards for our natural resources, especially water. At my restaurant we serve farm to table food and we partner with farmers who support conservation practices on their farms and care about the impact their farm and livestock have on their local environments and water supply. The current regulatory safeguards are critical in preventing environmental damage that can impact not only our businesses but also our health.”

Brent Schwoerer, Engrained Brewing Company (Springfield, IL)

About the Authors

Becky Hammer

Deputy Director, Federal Water Policy; Senior Attorney, Nature Program

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