New Poll Shows Small Business Owners Support Environmental Standards, Want Government Investments in Clean Energy

A new poll released April 24 by the Small Business Majority found that small business owners strongly support both government investments in clean energy and environmental standards that limit air emissions from power plants. The poll shows once again that small business owners believe standards and investments would drive innovation, create jobs, make our air cleaner, and protect Americans' health.

The poll surveyed a politically diverse sampling of 600 business owners that had fewer than 100 employees in six different states. Eighty-two percent said they favor the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules regulating mercury and other toxic substances that get into the air when power plants burn fossil fuels; 76 percent said they favor EPA rules controlling greenhouse gases from power plants. Over 50 percent of owners support EPA rules curbing carbon pollution and other emissions even if they mean an increase in utility prices.

The majority of small business owners (71 percent) also believe that government investments in clean energy and energy efficiency play an important role in boosting the economy and creating jobs now. Fifty-eight percent said that the failure of the bankrupt company Solyndra does not mean the government should stop investing in renewable energy technologies like solar and wind.

Polling results released in September found similar levels of support for clean energy and environmental standards. In that poll, large majorities said they support "bold" environmental initiatives to increase fuel efficiency and support EPA’s regulation of carbon emissions.

These results echo earlier polls and surveys and demonstrate the disconnect between the overheated anti-regulatory rhetoric in the House and the real concerns of small business owners. When asked to name the biggest one or two problems facing their businesses, 70 percent of owners cited the rising costs of doing business – such as higher fuel and electricity costs (36 percent) and higher material and supply costs (34 percent) – as one of their two biggest problems. About a quarter said the lack of consumer demand remained their biggest problem. (In a poll released in February, a majority of small business owners named weak customer demand as the primary problem facing their businesses.) Only 16 percent of the respondents in the latest survey said regulation is one of their biggest problems.

"[Small businesses] understand that to survive in this tough economy they need creative solutions to curb costs and increase their competitive edge," said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. "These include continued government investments in clean energy and the enforcement of standards that reduce harmful emissions in their communities."

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