Obama’s Climate Change Initiatives Enjoy Small Business Support


obama-good-for-businessAs President Obama pushes his new climate control and clean energy plans, even using his own advocacy group to work on his behalf, a new poll shows that his initiative enjoys considerable support among small business owners.

According to a report released by the American Sustainable Business Council, a business advocacy and research organization, 79 percent of small employers think the government should set a national goal to increase energy efficiency by half over the next decade. Nearly two-thirds think the EPA should cap emissions in existing power plants, including 86 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans.

David Levine, the group’s chief executive, pointed out that most of the responses did not change based on respondents’ political persuasions.

The president’s nonprofit Organizing for Action has formed a partnership to steer volunteers to purchase wind and solar power from a single company with ties to liberal groups.

“While we are doing all of this work to advance the president’s agenda in Congress, we also want to do everything we can locally to help switch to clean energy,” said Ivan Frishberg, Organizing for Action’s climate-change manager.

Organizing for Action will direct volunteers and activists who want to purchase renewable energy for their homes and businesses to consider signing up with Ethical Electric, a firm that currently sells wind power in four mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. The firm calls itself as a socially responsible energy supplier. It also has licenses that will allow it to expand to New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Ohio.

Organization for Action’s leaders “are trying to show people that it’s easy to make a change,” said Tom Matzzie, the president of Ethical Electric and a former Washington director of the liberal group MoveOn.org Political Action. “It’s an important role they can play in mobilizing people to participate in the clean-energy economy and not think that’s it just something that happens in Washington.”

“Small business owners across the country and across the political spectrum believe that clean energy makes sense not only for the environment, but it makes good business sense, too,”  Levine said in an interview with the Washington Post. “There’s a recognition that these clean energy policies really are better for their financial bottom lines.”

Obama announced several proposals aimed at reversing recent climate changes and making the country more self-sufficient— such as ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon dioxide emissions for coal- and gas-powered utilities by 2015.

“I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” Obama told students during the event at Georgetown University.

Susan Labandibar, president of Tech Networks of Boston in South Boston, Mass., said devastation from recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and the twisters in the Midwest have likely moved some small employers to take climate shifts more seriously.

“Small businesses are uniquely vulnerable to severe weather events, and there has been a huge amount of disruption from some of these storms,” Labandibar said, noting that her own firm was hit hard by Sandy.

“This shows that, when you ask some of these questions outside of the political arena, you get a different take than what you hear in Congress,” Levine said. “We need to change the dialogue in Washington and get away from party-line rhetoric and talk more about what’s actually good for business and what’s actually good for the economy.”

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