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German Beer Industry ‘Threatened by Fracking’

OktoberfestAnheuser-Busch InBev and other German brewers want Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to block any laws that would allow hydraulic fracturing, which, they say could contaminate water used to make beer and hurt the country’s brewing industry.

The Association of German Breweries, which represents Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bitburger Braugruppe and other companies say Germany’s fracking proposals don’t protect drinking water and may overstep the 500-year-old beer purity law, Bloomberg reports.

The “Reinheitsgebot,” or German purity law, mandates that brewers produce beer using only malt, hops, yeast and water, according to Reuters.

A beer association spokesman told Reuters that more than half of Germany’s brewers have their own wells on areas that would not be protected under the government’s planned fracking laws. He says the association wants the government to fund additional research and ensure chemicals won’t pollute the groundwater before it moves forward with any fracking legislation.

The €8 billion ($10 billion) German brewing industry employs more than 25,000 people, Bloomberg reports, and carries substantial political clout as fracking becomes an increasingly contentious issue leading up to Germany’s Sept. 22 election.

Merkel, who, according to media reports, drank from a 1-liter beer mug at a campaign stop earlier this month, has agreed on draft legislation that would outlaw fracking in some areas.

In the US, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company and 19 other craft brewers partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council last month to advocate for strong clean-water policies. The Brewers for Clean Water campaign aims to protect the multi-billion dollar industry’s No. 1 ingredient: water.

Earlier this month, a Duke University study of wells near shale gas drilling sites in Fayetteville, Ark. found no groundwater contamination. Low levels of methane found in samples were mostly from biological activity inside shallow aquifers, not from shale gas production contamination, scientists concluded.

Previous Duke studies of the effects of shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania found methane contamination in groundwater, but no signs of fracking fluids.

Photo Credit: Oktoberfest


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4 thoughts on “German Beer Industry ‘Threatened by Fracking’

  1. I grew up with family and friends working at AB’s 2nd largest brewery. Currently I am in the biotech sector working on renewable energy. However, I feel as though I have to defend the fracking industry a bit. Fracking goes on at depths well below the water table, so during the drilling process (to get to that depth) they may go through a water table. The fluids used in drilling are different than what are used in the fracking process. After the main vertical has been drilled, they case the bore with metal pipe before going to the horizontal (which is what is used to now carry fracking fluids & production flow). The casing is cemented in place between the pipe and the formation walls. When contamination does take place, it is because of poor cementing usually (for those of you that do not realize the Earth’s crust is constantly moving). Ever seen a sidewalk or driveway crack? Can’t hold much fluid back. Cementing practices in Canada are slightly higher than they are in the US. EU regs for cementing should follow the Canadian standards which will greatly limit or even eliminate the potential for fluid influx into a water reservoir.

    All in all, fracking and fracking fluids has come a long way in the past 2-3 years (I know as I am trying to replace them with renewables). That water “lighting on fire” story that everyone talks about happened in the Rocky Mountains Region. Anyone that knows geology knows that there isn’t any gas in or gas fracking happening in the Rocky’s. I guess the movie guys need to get their research done first before trying to “sell” a story…although it looks by this article that it is working.

  2. Chris, isn’t one worrisome issue also the above ground waste water pools kept next to fracking operations that can leak into groundwater?

  3. That was helpful. We should keep in mind, nonetheless, that natural gas is cleanER than oil but still not renewable or green. As the buzz around fracking in the Northeast US continues and the political process begins to select where governments will put infrastucture and energy dollars, it is hard to make a long term argument for spending money on gas pipelines, when solar PV is available and growing less expensive yearly, wind is advancing, wave energy developing and concentrated solar power looks fantastic. Its not jus about the cheap fuel, it is about the carbon pollution killing us softly.

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