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Small Businesses Support President Obama's Climate Plan

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In the widening post-Obama "Climate Plan speech" conversation, small business owners are becoming vocal on what their needs and beliefs are. I was on two press calls this month about the intersection of the environment and the economy.

The first call was to alert the media that the American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund had launched a television ad campaign in support of Gina McCarthy's nomination to the EPA. They targeted the states of New Hampshire, Maine, and Ohio.

Why those locales? For the reason that they want those states' constituents to call their senators: Ayotte, Collins, and Portman respectively. All three have been supporters of small business.

The ASBC Action Fund defines itself as an "independent, nonpartisan organization, which works to pass legislation that supports business and builds sustainable economy." The CEO, David Levine, said, "Gina McCarthy has spent her career making sure environmental protection and economic interest work together. That's why a recent poll showed that 62 percent of small businesses support her for EPA administrator." 

Having commissioned Lake Research to do a series of polls, another finding evidenced that "large majorities of small business owners support clean energy policies." Additionally, small businesses want to see the use of safer chemicals and robust government involvement.

Christine Hughes, the owner of a bakery in Athens, Ohio, has been operating for eleven years. She features a complete menu from the produce of local farmers. Hughes described herself as "energy conscious." She noted, "Businesses have a greater responsibility than the individual." Hughes added, "The voice of big business is heard everyday."

The second dialogue featured Celia Canfield, Chair of the Board of Directors of Small Business Majority, and David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. They spoke about a new climate analysis that was done for NRDC by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. The findings showed that the country could "significantly cut carbon pollution from power plants while adding thousands of new jobs and saving families on the cost of the electric bills." The projection date of 2020 showed a national addition of 210,000 new jobs, with a reduced average monthly bill of -$0.90. Fourteen states were chosen for deeper analytics. They comprised nearly every region--in order to represent different energy mixes. Included were states that rely significantly on coal-fired power (Ohio, Pennsylvania) to those that have a more diverse energy mix (New Hampshire, Oregon, Maine).

Florida had the highest increase in jobs--14,000. Their utility bill reduction was -$0.31. Virginia had the greatest utility bill reduction, -$4.35. Their total net gain in jobs was an additional 5,000 jobs.

Canfield, whose organization represents small businesses across the United States, emphasized that these enterprises are "eager for pragmatic, innovative energy policies that can help them develop new technologies and increase business opportunities." She referenced solutions via "continued government investments in clean energy and the enforcement of standards that reduce harmful emissions in their communities."

Underscored by Canfield was the crucial statistic that after extreme weather incidents like Hurricane Sandy, 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen.

Foster's alliance is a combination of fourteen unions and environmental groups. They have the tagline, "Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy." He said, "Congress isn't ready to act. We need to address transition." Foster mentioned how moving against climate change could add news jobs to the economy though employment of machinists, carpenters, and workers to clean up existing plants. These jobs cannot be outsourced.

Dr. Laurie Johnson, who worked on the report, pointed to the 70 percent reduction in pollution that has occurred since the Clean Air Act was enacted forty years ago.

One of the repeated talking points coming from those opposing Obama's initiatives is that using the Clean Air Act to make major reductions in carbon pollution will be a small business and jobs killer.

Those in small business are making it clear that they agree with the President that the country has an obligation to our children, and the next generations, to act against climate change.

                       This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force.

                                          Support Obama's Climate Change Plan! 


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Marcia G. Yerman is a writer, activist, and artist based in New York City. Her articles--profiles, interviews, reporting and essays--focus on women's issues, the environment, human rights, the arts and culture. Her writing has been published by (more...)

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