POLL: Small Businesses Want Government Investments in Renewable Energy Technologies and Support EPA Clean Air Standards

Mary Huttlinger

Original statement issued April 24, 2012:

Small business owners support government investments in clean energy and believe such investments have an important role in creating jobs and boosting the economy, according to an opinion poll of 600 small business owners in six states released today by Small Business Majority.

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found that 71 percent of small business owners agree government has a role in driving our country toward a cleaner, more competitive economy. Small businesses support continued government investment in clean energy technologies, even when asked specifically about Solyndra—a manufacturer of solar cells that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee. The poll also found strong support for new and current Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards that require a reduction in greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions, even if it means a possible increase in utility prices.

Small businesses are eager for pragmatic, innovative energy policies that can help them develop new technologies and increase business opportunities. They understand that to survive in this tough economy they need creative solutions to curb costs and increase their competitive edge. These include continued government investments in clean energy and the enforcement of standards that reduce harmful emissions in their communities. Right now, giving small businesses the incentives and tools needed to drive job creation and increase market competitiveness should be a top priority.

When asked about the biggest problems facing their small business, 70 percent of respondents cited the rising costs of doing business—such as increased fuel and electricity prices (36 percent) and higher material and supply costs (34 percent). Twenty-four percent cited a lack of consumer demand as a top problem, 20 percent said it was taxes and only 16 percent felt government regulations were a primary concern.

Small business owners in all six surveyed states demonstrated strong support for recently released EPA standards that require new power plants to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The vast majority—76 percent—favor the EPA’s federal rule that new power plants reduce previously unlimited emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

“The EPA regulations limiting carbon emissions make our solar technology more cost competitive and cause a surge of activity in our industry—new business startups, existing company expansions and a solidifying of this nascent industry,” said Michelle Greenfield, CEO of Third Sun Solar in Athens, Ohio. “It will also make the US more globally competitive in the renewable sector—a sector which is currently leaving us behind.”

Fifty-seven percent of participants reported their businesses will be impacted by EPA oversight of carbon and other emissions—including 1 in 4 who say they will be majorly impacted. Nonetheless, 56 percent still support the EPA regulating greenhouse gas emissions even if it means a possible increase in utility prices.

“EPA regulation of carbon emissions would directly affect my business by increasing awareness of companies that embrace clean alternative energy sources,” said Jonathan Tobias, President of Michigan Green Cabs in Wixom, Michigan. “Any time we see a shift in our industry’s focus there is a surge in consumer consciousness and support for businesses that embrace cleaner technologies.”

Other findings from the poll include:

  • 82 percent of respondents support EPA rules to reduce the emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases from new and existing power plants. Nearly half (48 percent) strongly support it—that’s five times those who strongly oppose it (10 percent).
  • A large majority (73 percent) of small business owners favor proposed rules to reduce smog and soot pollution that crosses state lines (the “Good Neighbor Rule”).
  • 58 percent of small businesses believe the government should continue investing in renewable energy technologies like solar and wind despite the failure of Solyndra, a manufacturer of solar cells that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee.
  • Small business owners polled were politically diverse: 44 percent identified as Republican, 38 percent as Democrat, and 10 percent as independent.