German brewers warn of fracking’s effect on the alcohol industry

German brewers are another interest group that heartily opposes fracking, and with good reason, since it could contaminate the very water used to produce its iconic beer.

Hydraulic fracturing – or ‘fracking’ as it is more commonly known – is a hotly debated topic in Europe and the US. France has banned the process altogether, and Germany is drafting legislation to regulate the practice. In the US, fracking is permitted in states like Louisiana and Pennsylvania, but is currently under debate in New York State.

Fracking involves injecting a mixture of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals into the ground to releasing oil and gas. Those opposed to fracking raise concerns over the effects that the chemicals will have on soil and water. Incidents of livestock death and low milk production in cows have already been linked to fracking chemicals in other parts of the country.

German brewers have a particular concern, since the “Reinhetsgebot,” a 500-year old water purity law directly affects the industry. While the extent that fracking would have on the environment isn’t certain, there is enough evidence to at least raise eyebrows. And while New York may not have the same water purity laws, breweries, wineries, and distilleries must all disclose how their products are manufactured and what effects bi-products have on the surrounding water and soil. It stands to reason that if fracking has the potential to contaminate water and soil, these industries should be just as concerned as their German brethren.

New York’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, so any changes that could threaten the health of this industry should be a huge concern. Fracking proponents argue that it will bring jobs to the state – but at what cost? Are the conditions of our soil and water – the nutrients of the food we consume – worth the price?