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Page added on February 3, 2013

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Fracking vs. beer: Does natural gas exploration threaten America’s breweries?

You can’t make beer without clean water, but now some breweries are afraid that fracking will threaten the very water supplies they depend upon.
“It’s all about the quality of the water,” Simon Thorpe, CEO of the Ommegang Brewery  in Cooperstown, N.Y., told NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams” this week. “The technology surrounding fracking is still not fully developed. Accidents are happening. Places are getting polluted.” He says the company established its brewery in upstate New York because of the access to fresh water. “If that water supply is threatened by pollution, it makes it very difficult for us to produce world-class beer here.” He suggests waiting until the technology is safer before its use is expanded.
Fracking, short for “hydraulic fracturing,” is a process for extracting natural gas from shale rock by pumping millions of gallons of pressurized water, sand and proprietary chemicals down a well. It has previously been linked to earthquakes, sick livestock, and water that has a tendency to burst into flames. Proponents of fracking say it creates jobs and energy independence in the U.S. Natural gas is cheaper than many other forms of energy. It also produces fewer greenhouse gases than coal or oil, although its primary component is methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Unfortunately for Ommegang Brewery, some nearby farms are tempted to sell natural gas leasing rights on their property, deals that could bring them much-needed income. One dairy farmer in Cooperstown told “Rock Center” that she is convinced fracking can be done safely and it will not threaten milk production on her farm. “We all love this area, none of us want to see it ruined,” Jennifer Huntington said.
Several towns in the region have approved fracking, a contentious decision throughout the area. Another local dairy farmer, Cooperstown Holstein, has filed a lawsuit alleging that only the state, not individual localities, has the authority to approve fracking operations. That case is currently being argued in the New York State Supreme Court.
Ommegang discussed the issue with The Washington Post earlier this month. The brewers say their equipment can filter sediment from water and adjust pH levels, but they do not have the equipment to filter out some of the potential toxic chemicals that could enter the water supply via fracking, including benzene, methane and even diesel fuel. If the water becomes polluted, the company may need to truck in water, move or shut down the brewery altogether — a last-ditch effort that would cost the region about 80 jobs.
The Cooperstown brewery is not alone. Elsewhere in New York, Brooklyn Brewery has also called for the state to protect water supplies, according to a report from The Climate Desk. The discussion even reached the New York Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit this October, where the Independent Oil and Gas Association spoke out in favor of the technology as a way to create jobs in the state.

Mother Nature News



10 Comments on "Fracking vs. beer: Does natural gas exploration threaten America’s breweries?"

  1. KingM on Sun, 3rd Feb 2013 1:13 pm 

    This is excessively silly. Beer is not going to be threatened by fracking.

  2. BillT on Sun, 3rd Feb 2013 1:39 pm 

    Well, I would be far more worried about fraking destroying the 2+ quarts YOUR body NEEDS every day to survive. That does NOT count the gallons used daily to grow your food or wash your body or your clothes. But, don’t worry, the pertro boys have the answer. Fraked gas at $20 per gallon or clean water at $20 per gallon. Cannot afford it? Then die.

  3. Arthur on Sun, 3rd Feb 2013 2:54 pm 

    Indeed Bill. Humans are 75% water. There might come a time when deceased Americans and other frackers need to delivered at the toxic waste dump.

  4. Kenz300 on Sun, 3rd Feb 2013 3:07 pm 

    What chemicals are the frackers pumping into the ground?

    Why are they afraid to disclose the chemicals they use?

  5. Arthur on Sun, 3rd Feb 2013 3:18 pm 

    Nobody knows. Nobody tells. Corporate secret.

  6. Arthur on Sun, 3rd Feb 2013 4:00 pm 

    Tip: aircraft carrier weighs 100,000 ton. 5 MW windturbine is 700 ton steel. Ergo you can make ca 135 of these towers = 670 MW windfarms. Times 11 makes 8 GW = 8 conventional 1 GW power plants. Keep one carrier as a museum.

  7. Plantagenet on Mon, 4th Feb 2013 12:31 am 

    Isn’t it suspicious that Beerie refused to comment on this story?

  8. BillT on Mon, 4th Feb 2013 12:49 am 

    Arthur, what is the average NET MW/DAY that each tower produces? I understand that it is about 40% of the rated power per unit. If that is correct, then your power calculations should be 60% less. And if there is line loss, you could be down to 35% or less of actual consumable electric. But scrapping the obsolete carriers is a good idea anyway. Who gets to store the 33 nuclear reactors they contain?

  9. Arthur on Mon, 4th Feb 2013 9:27 am 

    Yes Bill, all these numbers are always peak watts, not average, which is substantially less.

  10. Kenz300 on Mon, 4th Feb 2013 7:57 pm 

    We all need clean water, clean air and safe food to eat.

    Protecting the environment we need to survive should be our first priority.

    We once had a time when river caught fire in America.
    That enraged the public enough to enact Laws to protect the environment from polluters.

    It is harder to see the damage to ground water and impossible to clean up.

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