Energy is a hot topic right now, and much of the debate is centered on clean energy policies' impact on small businesses and their bottom lines. Some claim stronger energy standards will kill jobs and hurt entrepreneurs. But in a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out clean energy standards and business success can go hand-in-hand. He called on his fellow lawmakers to pass legislation that "creates jobs, saves money and puts our country on the track to energy independence."
The bill Reid was referring to is the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. For those who aren't already familiar with this bill, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, co-authored bipartisan legislation with New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, that would cut energy costs, enhance energy security and reduce emissions. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, nicknamed the Shaheen-Portman bill, would also provide rebates and training to encourage people to be more energy efficient, promote manufacturing and supply chain efficiency and require the federal government to be more efficient.
Small Business Majority asked small business owners in Ohio, co-author Rob Portman's home state, what they think about the bill and found nearly two-thirds support this legislation because it promotes energy conservation and cuts waste. Small business owners in the Buckeye State also think innovative energy standards open up a new segment of the economy that creates business opportunities.
Despite its strong bipartisan support from policymakers, business organizations and entrepreneurs, the Shaheen-Portman bill hasn't been scheduled for a vote since it was re-introduced in the Senate in February. Small business owners think lawmakers should act on this legislation now because it can help their bottom lines.
Ohio entrepreneurs are not alone in their support for clean energy policies. Our opinion polling found the majority of small businesses owners support strong national standards to increase energy innovation. In fact, a vast 87 percent of entrepreneurs agree improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small firms.
What's more, entrepreneurs overwhelmingly support the Environmental Protection Agency limiting carbon pollution. Three-fourths support the EPA's limits on carbon pollution that cause climate change. More than half of all small businesses support the EPA limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants, and 76 percent are in favor of requiring new power plants to reduce carbon pollution.
Small business owners believe strong standards will spur innovation, create market opportunities and save them money by cutting down on energy costs. That's why they believe immediate action is necessary to form bold policies that will prompt innovation and stimulate small business and the economy.
Here's the bottom line: Entrepreneurs say forward-thinking policies that improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable resources is good for business. It saves them money. It creates economic opportunity.
It's time lawmakers vote on the Shaheen-Portman legislation. Small business owners are doing their part to boost the economy. Political leaders need to follow suit.