In a time of increased political turmoil, there’s one thing that many people of all political stripes can agree on: Every now and then, it’s nice to have a cold beer.

Unfortunately, our clean water is now threatened and, without clean water, the future of much of Maine’s beer is in danger.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is eyeing the repeal of the Clean Water Rule, which protects critically important waterways, like small streams and wetlands, in Maine and across the nation. Our craft breweries depend on these waterways to provide the clean water we use to brew our beer. Opening up these waterways to unchecked pollution threatens Maine’s health, economy and environment – not to mention every beer made at Allagash Brewing Co.

Back in 2015, the nation celebrated the passage of the Clean Water Rule as the biggest step forward for clean water in more than a decade. This rule closed loopholes in the Clean Water Act that left more than 55 percent of Maine’s stream miles and thousands of acres of wetlands at risk for pollution, thus threatening the drinking water of Mainers across the state.

Clean water is obviously essential to more people than Maine’s brewers. Maine’s residents rely on clean water for their own health and the health of their families. Fishing, boating, surfing, bird watching – all of these cherished activities, and more, rely on clean water.

The current administration has been taking steps toward repealing the Clean Water Rule, with President Trump signing an executive order in February directing the EPA to review and reconsider the rule, with an eye toward repeal. Late this summer the EPA began accepting public comments on the repeal, which Administrator Pruitt said would provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s businesses. But repeal of this rule would do quite the opposite to many businesses here in Maine.

In the business of making beer, good beer relies on clean water. The average beer is more than 90 percent water, and local water supply quality and characteristics, like pH and mineral content or purity, are critical to the quality of each brew. The water in Allagash’s beers comes from the Sebago Lake watershed, which is renowned for its pristine quality. Protecting the Sebago watershed relies on the clean streams that flow into it and wetlands that filter pollution. Repealing the Clean Water Rule would threaten these water sources that Allagash, and the rest of Maine’s growing craft brewing industry, relies on.

The brewing industry boom in Maine has boosted the economy all across the state. Fifteen of Maine’s 16 counties boast at least one craft brewery. This wasn’t always the case – in 2007, there were around two dozen Maine breweries. By the Maine Brewers Guild’s listing, in 10 years that number has grown to 82 brewers at the end of 2016.

According to an economic impact study conducted at the University of Maine, the state’s beer industry employed more than 1,600 Mainers last year. These jobs paid over $50 million in salary and wages, and the industry itself indirectly contributed more than $228 million to the state economy. These breweries are due to expand dramatically in years to come. Muddying clean water act protections puts our key ingredient – and, therefore, the entire industry – at risk.

We need Maine’s entire congressional delegation to stand up and protect clean water, following the likes of Rep. Chellie Pingree, who recently joined with 100 other House members to send a letter to Pruitt, the EPA director, opposing the repeal of the Clean Water Rule.

The need for clean water is not controversial. We can’t afford to go backward on clean water protections. Maine’s expanding brewing industry relies on clean water. The EPA needs to keep strong protections for Maine’s rivers, lakes and streams in place so we can keep brewing – and drinking – the finest beers that only Maine can offer.

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