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Small Businesses Support Clean Energy and Climate Legislation

Pete Altman

Posted June 9, 2010 in Solving Global Warming

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It’s time for a little reality check for those who claim to be speaking on behalf on small business in thwarting needed Congressional action on clean energy and climate change

Just out today: A new bi-partisan poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint showing strong support among small business owners for clean energy and climate legislation. The survey, which included interviews with 800 small business owners, is one of the first (or maybe the first) to look specifically at small business owners’ attitudes regarding clean energy policies.

Key findings include the fact that a majority of small business owners believe that clean energy legislation will strengthen the economy:

  • 61 percent of small business owners agree that moving the country to clean energy is a way to restart the economy and help small businesses create jobs; and
  • 58 percent think that adopting new energy policies will transform the economy and they want their business to be part of it.

When asked specifically about potential clean energy and climate legislation, support is strong: 

  • 50 percent of small business owners support clean energy and climate legislation that would “limit pollution, invest in clean energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy sources,” and “put a price on carbon emissions from energy sources like oil and coal, so companies would have to pay if they release these emissions into the air.”        

And support is even stronger among African-American and Hispanic business owners: 

  • 78 percent of African-American and 60 percent of Hispanic small business owners support clean energy and climate legislation.

Why is this survey so important?

First and foremost, it comes from a highly credible source: Small Business Majority, a group recognized by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Chairwoman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee as one that has been very active on issues of concern to small business. As the National Journal noted in an article about the group,

The Small Business Majority, run by John Arensmeyer . . . gained prominence on Capitol Hill and at the White

House during the health care debate last year as Democrats looked hard for support in the small-business community.

 We already knew that some of America’s biggest and best-known businesses support action on clean energy and climate change

Now, with this survey, we know what small business owners really think about clean energy and climate legislation – versus the anti-progress nay-saying of those who claim to speak for small firms in supporting the Murkowski “Dirty Air Act” resolution and in opposing Congressional action on clean energy and climate change.

It’s not as though the survey is out of step with other indications of the views of American small business on this issue.  On May 19, 2010, American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE) and the We Can Lead (WCL) campaign released data show that More than 6,000 large and small businesses across the United States are now calling on Congress to enact clean energy and climate legislation.   (See the ad these groups are running in DC right now.)

As ABCE and WCL documented at that that time, the 6,000 businesses represent:

  • An estimated 3.5 million U.S. employees.
  • Total market capitalization exceeding $2.6 trillion.
  • $3.5 trillion in estimated revenue in 2009.
  • 21 Fortune 100 companies and 49 Fortune 500 companies.

Maybe even the US Chamber – which came under heavy fire from its own members last fall for opposing climate legislation, but which is holding its fire on the American Power Act – will check out the poll to find out how small businesses feel about the clean energy future and climate legislation.

There’s something to be said for being in touch with reality, right?

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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