Tags: epa | water | rule | brewers | farmers | beer

New EPA Water Rules Bring Beer War to a Head

By    |   Friday, 19 Sep 2014 02:20 PM

The beer industry is battling over a new Environmental Protection Agency regulation that gives the agency regulatory power over bodies of water, with small craft brewers for the new rule but farmers arguing against it.

Craft brewers like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium say the rule will protect water supplies so that they have enough clean water to make their beer, reports The Hill, but farmers who grow barley and hops say the rule could cut their production and make beer prices go up.

"Obviously, water is a major element of beer, but barley and hops are pretty darn important as well," said Bob Pease, CEO of the Brewers Association, which represents brewers and farmers.

The Brewers Association has not decided where it stands on the rule, and Pease said the group is discussing the issue with its members on both sides of the argument.

The EPA announced the water rule back in March, saying it wanted to clarify its authority over small bodies of water, including tributaries, leading to complaints that the Obama administration could be forcing its regulations on private property owners.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Monday she will not back down on her agency's efforts to implement the new rule despite criticisms that it amounts to a federal water grab.

But brewers say that water, making up 90 percent of beer, should be protected.

"They’re not going to be able to brew the same beer if the composition of the water changes," said Karen Hobbs, who has brought together craft brewers for the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) "Clean Water, Great Beer" initiative to lobby for the rule.

Without the rule, they say, small streams could end up polluting lakes and rivers, where brewers get water, Cheri Chastain, sustainability manager at California-based Sierra
Nevada, the second largest craft brewer in the country, told The Hill.

And while there are safeguards for beer, they can be expensive and change the taste of beer by filtering out natural flavors.

"It's a matter of just keeping [pollution and contaminants] out of the water, so we're not bringing them into the brewing process and we’re not bringing them into our beer," said Dana Sedin, who monitors beer quality at New Belgium, the nation's third-largest craft brewer.

But the Farm Bureau, which opposes the rule, says farmers may not be able to financially follow the regulation, which they say is not necessary.

Doyle Lentz, president of the National Barley Growers Association, sells most of his farm's barley to Anheuser-Busch, and says he is concerned the EPA could stop him from farming on as much as 80 percent of his land, which is sometimes covered in water.

Farmers said they are as concerned about water quality as anyone, but say the rule may be too much.

"It gets to the point where I think everyone supports clean water, but how clean does it have to be?” said Ann George, executive director of the Hop Growers of America, told The Hill.

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The beer industry is battling over a new Environmental Protection Agency regulation that gives the agency regulatory power over bodies of water, with small craft brewers for the new rule but farmers arguing against it.
epa, water, rule, brewers, farmers, beer
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2014-20-19
Friday, 19 Sep 2014 02:20 PM
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