Dozens of Craft Brewers Urge Senate to Vote Against Scott Pruitt as EPA Head

Austin Ray

THE GIST
According to Brewbound, three-dozen craft brewers from around the country have co-signed a letter urging the United States Senate to vote against Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. In the letter, the brewers contend that Pruitt has proven unfit to enforce clean water protections, which ultimately threatens brewery access to a resource as vital to the brewing process as hops and barley.

“Protecting clean water is central to our business and our long-term success. Not only does the great-tasting beer we brew depend on it, but so do the communities in which we operate,” the letter reads. “Mr. Pruitt cannot be trusted to protect America’s water resources. We hope that we can count on you to oppose his confirmation to head EPA.”

In all, leaders and representatives from 33 breweries, including Allagash, Brooklyn Brewery, Goose Island, New Belgium, and Odell, signed the letter.

WHY IT MATTERS
The companies behind the effort are working in partnership with the National Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental organization. Together, in 2013, they launched the Brewers for Clean Water campaign in response to numerous “attempts to roll back the Clean Water Act.” Since then, the group has been vocal about spreading the simple truth that beer doesn’t exist without clean water. Now, the brewers involved are narrowing their scope and taking aim at Pruitt’s “history of attacking and undermining the protections on which we depend.”

“Mr. Pruitt has challenged virtually every important EPA safeguard in recent years, often falsely accusing the agency of overstepping its authority,” the letter continues. “We need an EPA administrator who will enforce our laws to protect our resources and our communities, not someone who tries to weaken safeguards on behalf of polluters.”

Pruitt himself, acting as Oklahoma’s attorney general, has been a part of 14 lawsuits against the very agency that the president has asked him to run. Per the Missoulian: “These suits aimed to dismantle critical public health safeguards ranging from the Clean Water Rule that protects drinking water sources for 117 million Americans…to the Mercury and Toxic Air rule that protects our kids and other vulnerable citizens from highly damaging pollution.”

In December, upon being tapped by then President-elect Donald Trump to run the agency, the New York Times flatly referred to Pruitt as a “climate change denialist.” “It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history,” Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, told the Times at the time. This, ostensibly, makes Pruitt a two-pronged threat to the brewing industry. Beer is, of course, an agricultural product, wholly dependent on the vibrancy of myriad crops.

“Our breweries cannot operate without reliable, clean water supplies,” the letter goes on. “We need an EPA administrator who will adopt and enforce policies that protect the water sources we use to make our great-tasting beer.”

A vote is expected this week. Before that, make sure to read the whole letter. And remember this moment the next time anyone tells a brewery to “shut up and stick to beer."

—Dave Eisenberg

READ MORE
Montana's air, water and our families' health: Too important to leave to Pruitt [Missoulian]