Misplaced Activism from the Craft Beer Industry

by Tim Wigley, President on July 8, 2015 - 12:06pm

Beer GlassSome people–or businesses–just never learn! They want to have it both ways on the environment: support radical anti-oil and natural gas activist groups to appear “green” in the eyes of customers, yet make products that depend upon that very same oil and natural gas.

The most prominent example is New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado. Recent news stories spotlighted how the brewery has partnered with one of the most radical environmental groups in the country, WildEarth Guardians, to campaign against the use of fossil fuels. That effort in part includes shutting down the ColoWyo Mine in Craig, Colorado.

Brewing Controversy

Not having any of it, several liquor stores, bars and restaurants in Craig decided to send a message by pulling New Belgium products from their shelves and menus. The basic message: if you don’t support the workers and jobs created by the local mining industry, we don’t support you!

My hat’s off to the leaders in Craig for taking this stand.  Everybody has choices in the products they use and purchase. But it’s not just New Belgium. Other craft beer companies such as Avery, Breckenridge, Ska and Telluride brewing companies are on the list of Wild Earth Guardian supporters.

Beer is trucked to restaurants and bars around the country, which is made possible by fracking.  Many of the materials used in beer production also rely on oil and natural gas and other minerals mined from the earth such as batteries, power supply, piping, computers and smart phones.

Standing with Fossil Fuels

In an effort to stand with our partners in the mining industry, we reached out to New Belgium and other companies who support WildEarth Guardians. We’ve educated them that WildEarth Guardians, as an anti-fossil fuels group, directly threatens not just our business, but theirs. Its efforts put at risk the abundant, affordable energy that runs their companies.

And the response has been amazingly positive!

I’m proud to report that we’ve heard from three businesses–Southwest Airlines, Great Divide Brewing and Dickies BBQ–that were previously listed as supporters of WildEarth Guardians until they demanded their names be removed. Each made it clear that they are very supportive of the oil and natural gas industry and aren’t partners with the radical anti-fossil fuels organization.

It turns out WildEarth Guardians is stretching the truth. The group collects small donations, like gift cards, from un-suspecting local businesses and then lists those businesses as supporters. That was the case in all three of these instances. 

Take Southwest Airlines for example. The airline receives over 17,000 requests for donations each year.  While most of those requests are managed through the corporate offices, Southwest routinely gives out a certain amount of airline tickets for local offices to manage. An airline ticket may have been given to support environmental causes, but is not an endorsement of WildEarth Guardians or its radical advocacy.

As I spoke to leaders of these companies, they candidly voiced their support for responsible energy development and understand that our industry follows strict environmental standards.  It’s always nice to hear from business owners who appreciate the value of the oil and natural gas industry. 

Western Energy Alliance will continue to expose this!  Our conversations with local businesses have been outstanding and it’s heartening to hear these business owners express their appreciation for our industry.

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