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Will Love of Beer Give Germany a Green Hangover?

It’s a battle of the titans as fracking squares off against beer in Germany. The Reinheitsgebot, Germany’s beer purity law that’s been on the books for almost five hundred years, could kill the country’s hopes at extracting its shale resources. Der Spiegel reports on German brewers’ resistance to fracking for fear that it might contaminate the water used to make their signature libations (h/t John Ellis):

[Fracking] threatens to contaminate drinking water, according to a letter written by the German Brewers Federation to the federal government, and quoted by the mass daily tabloid Bild.

In the letter, which was sent to six federal ministers, the brewers said: “The legal changes planned by the federal government to date are not sufficient to guarantee the security of drinking water supplies and to take into account the requirements of the Reinheitsgebot.” A spokesperson for the federation confirmed the contents of the letter to SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Given the level of negative press that fracking has received, we don’t exactly blame the German beer barons for getting nervous. Luckily, it’s looking like fracking may very well be safer than its green critics contend. Fracking has been given a clean bill of health by some studies, and there are indications that the industry is getting safer and greener by the day, with some companies working on ways to recycle the water used in the fracking process.

Just as German beer can be consumed irresponsibly (with terrible consequences for people and their environment), a headlong rush to frack at all costs without paying any heed to environmental externalities is certainly nothing we’d advocate here at Via Meadia. But with fracking technology maturing, and with Germany’s past rejections of shale energy on green grounds costing Germans a bundle as electricity prices soar, Berlin may want to give fracking another look.


[German beer stein image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Corlyss

    Germans’ recent energy decisions puzzle. All the ones I’ve heard about seem to reject, on ideological bases, policies that would make them independent of Russia and the Arabs. It’s as if they believed settled thralldom was preferable to unsettling opportunities. Is this where Americans too will end up? Accepting decline under familiar Blue model regimes to freedom? I shudder at the prospect.

  • James Jones

    Corlyss, you just lack the enlightened perspective necessary to appreciate the overwhelming moral case for leaving yourself and your nation vulnerable to potential/actual enemies. A victim is always morally superior to a victor. Vulnerability and dependence are always morally superior to security and independence.

    These eternal truths are doubly true for any Western European nation. They have evolved to a post-historical phase in which no nation or group of nations would even consider using their control of critical natural resources to compel concessions or extort exorbitant payments for access to those critical resources.

    How dare you insult the Russians and the Arabs by implying that they are any less enlightened than the Germans? For shame, sir, for shame!
    /snark off

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