Birmingham’s newest craft brewer, Cahaba Brewing Company, has joined two other area brewers in signaling opposition to the proposed Shepherd Bend coal strip mine to be located on the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River near Cordova, Ala.
The mine would be located only about 800 feet from a drinking water intake for the Birmingham Water Works Board that serves about 200,000 area residents.
Cahaba Brewing sent a letter to the University of Alabama (UA) Interim President, Dr. Judy Bonner, on Monday, July 23, expressing its opposition to the mine. The letter was released to the press on Monday, July 30, by the Black Warrior Riverkeeper (BWRK).
The UA is the largest land and mineral-rights owner at the site, and it is thought that without the UA’s participation, the strip-mine proposal would not be economically feasible.
“Please do not compromise water quality by selling or leasing UA’s land or mineral rights at Shepherd Bend for mining,” CBC’s letter to Bonner states. The letter is signed by CBC’s three partners.
Cahaba Brewing, along with Good People Brewing Company and Avondale Brewing Company, expresses concerns about the quality of the water that they use to make their beer.
Good People and Avondale Brewing announced their opposition to the mine in January, as reported by Weld Local and other outlets.
The letter to the UA notes the environmental risks of discharges from the mine. “The negative impacts from coal mining to surface waters have been well-documented,” the letter states. “Additionally, the Birmingham Water Works Board and several environmental specialists have noted that the permitted wastewater discharges from the proposed mine would introduce toxic pollutants and sediment into the water.”
The CBC letter “encourages the University to… look beyond the immediate reward of short-term profit and instead establish a legacy of environmental commitment.”
The BWRK sent a letter on July 26 to the new president of the UA, Dr. Guy Bailey, who assumes the position on September 1. According to an email from Scribner, the eco-group wished to inform Bailey of the Shepherd Bend proposal.
“Our opposition will persist until UA announces that they will never lease or sell land or minerals for mining at Shepherd Bend,” said Scribner in the email. “UA needs to take a stance against the mine now. UA’s oft-repeated response, ‘The University has not been approached about leasing the land and has no current plans to lease or sell the land,’ with emphasis on the word ‘current,’ is an inadequate response on such a pivotal issue.”