59 Craft Breweries Tell EPA Dirty Water Proposal Threatens Key Ingredient 'on Which Our Livelihoods Depend'
By Becky Hammer
Thursday a group of 59 craft breweries sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opposing the agencies' "Dirty Water Rule" proposal to slash clean water protections for waterways around the country.
These brewers, who are partners in NRDC's Brewers for Clean Water campaign, are standing up for safeguards that protect the sources of clean water on which their businesses depend.
Here's what they said ...
Mr. Andrew Wheeler, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, U.S. Department of the Army
Dear Administrator Wheeler and Assistant Secretary James:
We oppose your proposal to substantially limit the number of waterways receiving protection under the Clean Water Act. This rule would endanger critical wetlands and streams across the country — waterways that our craft breweries depend on to provide the clean water we use to brew our beer.
Beer is mostly water, so the quality of our source water significantly affects our finished product. Compounds present in brewing water can affect pH, color, aroma, and taste. Sulfates make hops taste astringent, while chlorine can create a medicinal off-flavor. The presence of bacteria can spoil a batch of beer. Even small chemical disruptions in our water supply can influence factors like shelf life and foam pattern.
Unexpected changes in water quality — due to pollution in our source water, or a change in the treatment process at our local drinking water plant — can threaten our 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 $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy each year, along with more than 500,000 jobs.
For years, craft brewers have been asking for more clean water protections, not fewer. We supported the 2015 Clean Water Rule because it helped protect the sources of drinking water for 117 million Americans from pollution and destruction, providing certainty that we would continue to have access to the clean water on which our livelihoods depend. Importantly, that rule was based on sound science. The record showed that the waters it protected had biological, chemical, and physical connections to larger downstream waterways.
This proposed rule, to the contrary, ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that protecting small streams and wetlands is essential to ensuring the quality of America's water sources. It would prohibit applying federal pollution-control safeguards to rain-dependent streams and exclude wetlands that do not have a surface connection to other protected waters. It also invites polluters to ask for even greater rollbacks, such as eliminating protections for seasonally-flowing streams.
We strongly oppose these proposed changes, which would affect millions of miles of streams and most of the nation's wetlands. Science shows that protecting these waters is important to downstream water quality. We must maintain clear protections for the vulnerable waterways that provide our most important ingredient.
We are depending on you not to roll back the safeguards established under the Clean Water Act. Protecting 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.
Thank you for considering our views on this important matter.
Allagash Brewing Company (Maine)
Alliance Brewing Company (Tennessee)
Andersonville Brewing (Illinois)
Asheville Brewing Company (North Carolina)
Avery Brewing Company (Colorado)
Bang Brewing (Minnesota)
Blue Point Brewing Company (New York)
Brewery Techne (Pennsylvania)
Brewery Vivant (Michigan)
Brooklyn Brewery (New York)
Bull City Burger and Brewery (North Carolina)
Clinch River Brewing (Tennessee)
Corridor Brewery & Provisions (Illinois)
Cypress and Grove Brewing Company (Florida)
DryHop Brewers (Illinois)
Earth Bread + Brewery (Pennsylvania)
Engrained Brewery & Restaurant (Illinois)
Fiddlin' Fish Brewing Company (North Carolina)
Flossmoor Station Brewing Company (Illinois)
Forest City Brewery (Ohio)
Founders Brewing Company (Michigan)
Fremont Brewing (Washington)
Grand Rapids Brewing Company (Michigan)
Great Lakes Brewing Company (Ohio)
Greenstar Organic Brewing (Illinois)
Half Acre Beer (Illinois)
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company (California)
Horse & Dragon Brewing Company (Colorado)
Lakefront Brewery (Wisconsin)
Land-Grant Brewing Company (Ohio)
Lost Rhino Brewing Company (Virginia)
Maine Beer Company (Maine)
Maui Brewing Company (Hawaii)
Naked River Brewing Company (Tennessee)
New Belgium Brewing (Colorado)
Odell Brewing Company (Colorado)
Old Bust Head Brewing Company (Virginia)
One World Brewing (North Carolina)
Revolution Brewing (Illinois)
Right Brain Brewery (Michigan)
Rising Tide Brewing Company (Maine)
Rolling Meadows Farm Brewery (Illinois)
Sailfish Brewing Company (Florida)
Saltwater Brewery (Florida)
Sanctuary Brewing Company (North Carolina)
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (California)
Sleepy Dog Brewery (Arizona)
Smartmouth Brewing Company (Virginia)
Starr Hill Brewery (Virginia)
SweetWater Brewing Company (Georgia)
Temperance Beer Co. (Illinois)
Two Brothers Brewing Company (Illinois)
Upslope Brewing Company (Colorado)
Wild Onion Brewery (Illinois)
Wild Wolf Brewing Company (Virginia)
Wolf Hills Brewing Company (Virginia)
Wrightsville Beach Brewery (North Carolina)
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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