German Brewers Fight Fracking To Maintain Purity Of Beer

Fracking — the process of obtaining natural gas and other resources through the use of hydraulic fracturing — is a controversial and divisive issue, with proponents claiming it is a clean and safe way to tap needed fuel sources while opponents say fracking wreaks havoc on the environment and ecosystem. In Germany, some of the biggest names in beer have joined together to ask the German government to stop fracking there until it can be proven that it won’t taint the groundwater — and by extension, German beer.

“We are concerned that fracking endangers the brewing water that more than half of Germany’s breweries take from private wells,” a spokesman for the Association of German Breweries, a trade group which includes beer biggie Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bitburger, and Radeberger as members, tells Bloomberg. “And that it threatens our absolutely pure beer.”

To back up its position, the group points to the Reinheitsgebot a 497-year-old purity guidelines that declare what ingredients German brewers can use in the making of beer. The Association says it “guarantees a workable form of consumer protection at a time in which other foodstuffs often make negative headlines.”

The beer industry’s push against fracking, which employees around 25,000 people in Germany and brings in around $10 billion a year, may be working.

“Fracking is not yet a technology that we can use in Germany,” the country’s Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said in a radio interview last week, in response to a push from the European Union for member nations to increase fracking integration. “I want the related decisions to be made locally, where one knows the circumstances, and not somewhere in Brussels.”

Altmaier says that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to draft legislation that would prohibit fracking in certain areas of the country.