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NC Businesses Join Fight for Clean Water

New Belgium Brewery, headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., chose Asheville, N.C., as its second location, partly because of the state's water quality. (Joe Flood/Flickr)
New Belgium Brewery, headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., chose Asheville, N.C., as its second location, partly because of the state's water quality. (Joe Flood/Flickr)
February 2, 2017

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – North Carolina's clean water is a valuable commodity for thousands of businesses across the state, including New Belgium Brewing in Asheville.

The fourth-largest craft brewery in the U.S. is one of 234 businesses that this week joined an amicus brief urging a federal court to uphold the Clean Water Rule, finalized in 2015.

Jenn Vervier, director of sustainability and strategy at New Belgium Brewing, stresses water is important to the company's future success.

"You've got to have good water to brew, and the fact that we have so much good water because of the Clean Water Act throughout the country has helped the craft-brewing industry grow,” she explains. “And certainly for New Belgium, our success in locating here, near the Appalachians in Asheville, has helped preserve the quality of our beer."

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case challenging the Clean Water Rule, which more clearly defines what is covered under the Clean Water Act.

At least six other North Carolina businesses joined the appeal.

The Environment America Research and Policy Center and the American Sustainable Business Council filed the brief with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Richard Eidlin, vice president for policy and campaigns at the American Sustainable Business Council, says clean water is a business issue.

"We really wanted to make the court aware of the business case for having these rules in place,” he explains. “Let's have appropriate regulations and standards to insure consistent quality of water and that way, we can save money in the future."

Vervier adds that recent developments under the Trump administration add further complications for businesses that count on clean water.

"Businesses depend on clarity in regulations in order to plan and in order to succeed, and we're a little bit worried right now, with all the tumult going on around the EPA and water, and climate,” she state s. “It destabilizes, and we worry that it moves the country in the wrong direction, as far as preserving our natural resources."

According to the Environment America Research and Policy Center, implementing the Clean Water Rule would generate over $400 million annually in economic benefits, and more than 80 percent of small business owners support implementation of the rule.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC