Once again, lawmakers are playing party politics with clean energy standards, and they’ve put small businesses—our nation’s biggest job creators—smack dab in the middle of the debate. In the latest attempt to block proposed standards that would limit carbon pollution from power plants, lawmakers have filed legislation that would stop all regulations being developed by the EPA and require a review of all its current policies. They claim these standards would hurt small businesses and middle class Americans. But what do real small business owners think about the proposed EPA standards?
To find out, Small Business Majority polled a random sample of small business owners across the country and found 52 percent support the EPA regulating carbon emissions from existing power plants that cause climate change, and 76 percent are in favor of requiring new power plants to reduce carbon pollution.
Small employers support strong clean energy standards because they realize carbon pollution is linked to climate change and extreme weather. More and more, extreme weather has been hitting small employers where it hurts the most. Our polling revealed climate change and extreme weather events are causing real financial hardships for small employers—so much so that the majority of entrepreneurs affected by an extreme weather event have experienced a “significant” financial impact to their companies and some have even had to lay off employees.
What’s more, our poll found the vast majority of respondents have had to close their business for up to a week after an extreme weather event, and some owners say they’ve had to close for as long as 14 to 30 days. It should come as no surprise then that 57 percent of small businesses across the country believe climate change and extreme weather events are an urgent problem that can disrupt the economy and harm small businesses.
Along with helping to combat climate change, stronger clean energy standards can help create new business opportunities for small businesses. Entrepreneurs believe allowing the EPA to regulate harmful carbon emissions could help stabilize the market and set clear goals for our nation's future in the clean energy economy. Small businesses—the majority of which are unaffected by the standards themselves—will benefit as they supply the services and products to help those who do have to meet them. Entrepreneurs could confidently innovate and create jobs knowing that the future would hold long-term financial returns resulting from the new standards. Our poll numbers prove that small employers are committed to this type of future: 87 percent of entrepreneurs said improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small businesses.
As our polling shows, small businesses believe an economy that includes robust clean energy standards is rife with economic possibilities. Despite strong small business support, efforts to set standards reducing carbon emissions have been blocked over and over. That comes at the expense of our economic future.
Small business owners agree: forward-thinking policies that improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions are good for business because they help them save money, create economic opportunities and help mitigate the factors causing climate change. It’s time for lawmakers to stop holding EPA proposals hostage and allow states to move forward with implementing strong carbon standards now.
Arensmeyer is founder and CEO of Small Business Majority.