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Colorado Businesses Join Struggle to Uphold Clean Water Rule

Colorado's New Belgium Brewery is among more than 200 businesses to sign an amicus brief urging a federal court to uphold the Clean Water Rule. (M. Doxtad/Wikimedia Commons)
Colorado's New Belgium Brewery is among more than 200 businesses to sign an amicus brief urging a federal court to uphold the Clean Water Rule. (M. Doxtad/Wikimedia Commons)
February 3, 2017

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Colorado's clean water is a valuable commodity for thousands of businesses across the state, including New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins. The fourth-largest craft brewery in the United States is one of 234 businesses that joined an amicus brief this week, urging a federal court to uphold the Clean Water Rule, which was finalized in 2015.

Since beer is 90 percent water, said Jenn Vervier, New Belgium's director of sustainability and strategy, federal protections have been critical for the craft-brewing industry.

"Almost all of Colorado's drinking water is supplied by intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams," she said. "That's why this issue is so important in Colorado, and the brewing industry is hugely important in Colorado, too."

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 10 Colorado businesses joined the appeal. The brief was filed in the Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati by the Environment America Research and Policy Center and the American Sustainable Business Council.

Richard Eidlin, the council's vice president for policy and campaigns, explained why 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 said. "Let's have appropriate regulations and standards to ensure consistent quality of water, and that way we can save money in the future."

Vervier said 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 said. "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 more than $400 million annually in economic benefits and more than 80 percent of small-business owners support implementation of the rule.

Information on the Clean Water Rule is online at epa.gov/cleanwaterrule and the brief is at environmentamericacenter.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO