Beer-makers back Obama’s climate plan

Founders of Widmer Brothers Brewing is backing a key piece of President Obama’s climate legacy: his signature rule on carbon pollution from existing power plants.

The Oregon-based brewing company, which distributes to major cities across the country and is best known for its nationally-acclaimed American-style Hefeweizen, came out in support of Obama’s proposal on Monday evening.

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In an op-ed in The Oregonian, founders and brothers Kurt Widmer and Rob Widmer argue for a “clean energy path forward.”

The brewers admit that a majority of the power used during the beer-making process is generated by coal, but they want to change that.

“We need solutions that will pick up the pace in dealing with this challenge,” the brothers said. “We fully support President Obama's Climate Action Plan.”

Thirty years ago, the brothers explain, “climate change was not something we worried about.”

That’s all changed with increasing wildfires, flood and storm damage and threats to public health, they write.

“And yes, the beer industry is threatened too,” the brothers said. “Water availability and even barley production – two key ingredients in making beer – are threatened by climate change. The Clean Power Plan is only one piece of needed action; the state must do more as well.”

“In the meantime, we are behind these rules as a vitally significant step to reduce carbon pollution,” they added.

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently taking comments on the rule, which requires the nation’s fleet of existing power plants to cut emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

A number of states oppose the rule, however, including the more coal-reliant Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

Republicans, the fossil-fuel industry and coal miners have argued the rule would kill energy jobs, drive up prices, and hurt the economy.

Obama will also face more opposition in Congress next year with the new GOP majority, which has said a top priority is to target the administration’s climate agenda.