Clean Water is Good for Business, and for Beer!
By Jenn Vervier, special to We All Live Downstream
This post first appeared at Huffington Post
At New Belgium Brewing, we not only make Fat Tire Amber Ale and about 15 other beers at one time, we also cultivate our Alternatively Empowered culture. New Belgium Brewing takes pride in being a responsible corporate role model with progressive programs such as employee ownership, open book management, and a commitment to environmental stewardship. We also strive to leverage the strength of our brand when necessary to support public policy that reflects our environmental and social ethos.
Right now, we need to stand up for the Clean Water Act.
2012 is the 40th anniversary for the Clean Water Act, one of America's bedrock environmental laws that have protected Americans as well as America's waters from toxic pollution. Passed in 1972 with wide bipartisan support in Congress, the Clean Water Act has transformed our waterways across the United States, resulting in cleaner and healthier water, better fishing and swimming, healthier ecosystems, and improvements to cities' drinking water supplies.
Unfortunately, a previous presidential administration weakened Clean Water Act programs so that we cannot assume that all our water is protected. Here in Colorado, for example, the Cache la Poudre River and the Colorado River -- which are the source waters for New Belgium's beer -- are protected by the Clean Water Act, but all of the seasonal and intermittent streams in the mountainsthat feed into the Poudre and the Colorado are vulnerable to these "No Protection" policies.
That's why we need to speak out now to restore the protections Congress intended when it passed the Clean Water Act in 1972.
In the coming weeks, President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are expected to finalize "guidance" that starts to close these loopholes so that Colorado's seasonal mountain streams are protected. New Belgium Brewing supports this commonsense policy. We'd like to see protections restored to all rivers, lakes, and wetlands - large and small - that safeguard our drinking water and the public's health.
Last summer, the EPA received over 230,000 public comments in support of moving this policy forward. In addition, more than 500 local elected officials, farmers and recreational businesses across the United States (including dozens in Colorado) have lent their support to the guidelines. We applaud the Obama Administration's efforts to protect our waterways and address this enormous public outpouring of support for the Clean Water Act. It is clear to us that the American public expects and wants clean water because it is essential for a healthy environment and a healthy community.
Clarifying the confusion over the Clean Water Act will also ensure that businesses have a stable regulatory environment in which to work. As a brewer of craft beer, we rely on smart regulations to keep water clean so that we can make sound business decisions about the water that comes into our brewery, as well as the water that leaves it through local waste-water facilities. We need to know that regulations will protect our bottom line from upstream pollution, and we need to make sure we are also protecting downstream water users.
Our brewery has been growing at a brisk pace -- we are lucky to be able to make great beer as well as support our community by creating good jobs in a spirited environment dedicated to our collective success. We've had 20 great years here at New Belgium Brewing, which are in part due to the 40 years the Clean Water Act has worked to keep Colorado's water safe, clean and healthy.
On behalf of the employee owners at New Belgium Brewing and our Alternatively Empowered culture, we offer a toast to 40 great years of the Clean Water Act and to the EPA and Obama Administration's leadership to make sure our water -- and our beer -- continues to be of the highest quality.