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US small business owners support government clean energy investment, EPA CO2 emissions regulations and ending oil-and-gas industry subsidies, but who's listening on Capitol Hill?

Air Quality

Small Business Owners: Federal Clean Energy Investment Creates Jobs, Growth; EPA Emissions Regs a Good Thing

US small business owners support government clean energy investment, EPA CO2 emissions regulations and ending oil-and-gas industry subsidies, but who’s listening on Capitol Hill?

Graphic courtesy Small Business Majority

Business media is dominated by news of large, multinational enterprises, but small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy and jobs growth. You’d think their voices would be heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill. That’s not the case, however. In stark contrast to goings-on in Congress, not only do small business owners favor putting an end to federal oil and gas industry subsidies, they support EPA clean energy standards and believe “government investments in clean energy have an important role in boosting our national economy and creating jobs.”

These results came by way of  surveys for the non-profit small business advocacy group Small Business Majority. The SBM on April 24 released the results of a survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research that found:

  • a large majority– 71% –of its members believe government clean energy investments will boost the economy and create jobs
  • 58% say the federal government should continue investing in renewable energy despite the Solyndra bankruptcy
  • 76% support the EPA requiring new power plants to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“Small businesses are eager for pragmatic, innovative energy policies that can help them develop new technologies and increase business opportunities,” said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority, stated in a press release.

“They understand that to survive in this tough economy they need creative solutions to curb costs and increase their competitive edge. These include continued government investments in clean energy and the enforcement of standards that reduce harmful emissions in their communities. Right now, giving small businesses the incentives and tools needed to drive job creation and increase market competitiveness should be a top priority.”

Biggest Problems for Small Business Owners: Higher Energy Prices and Materials Costs

Also in stark contrast to rhetoric commonly heard from certain politicians and political parties, 70% of respondents said that it is increased fuel and electricity prices (36%) and higher material and supply costs (34%) that are the biggest problems they face, not stricter government regulations.

Twenty-four percent cited lack of consumer demand as one of their biggest problems, 20% said it was taxes. Only 16% cited government regulations as a primary concern.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said the EPA’s stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions would have an impact on their businesses, including 1 in 4 who said they will have a major impact. Nonetheless, 56% still support the EPA regulating CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, even if it means a possible increase in electric utility rates.

“EPA regulation of carbon emissions would directly affect my business by increasing awareness of companies that embrace clean alternative energy sources,” said Jonathan Tobias, President of Michigan Green Cabs in Wixom, Michigan. “Any time we see a shift in our industry’s focus there is a surge in consumer consciousness and support for businesses that embrace cleaner technologies.”

Other findings include:

  • 82 percent of respondents support EPA rules to reduce the emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases from new and existing power plants. Nearly half (48 percent) strongly support it—that’s five times those who strongly oppose it (10 percent)
  • A large majority (73 percent) of small business owners favor proposed rules to reduce smog and soot pollution that crosses state lines (the “Good Neighbor Rule”)
  • 58 percent of small businesses believe the government should continue investing in renewable energy technologies like solar and wind despite the failure of Solyndra, a manufacturer of solar cells that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee
  • Small business owners polled were politically diverse: 44 percent identified as Republican, 38 percent as Democrat, and 10 percent as independent.
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I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.


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