Actually, Small Business Owners Do Want a Climate Bill

Opponents of climate change and clean energy legislation like to present themselves as the voice of small business owners, who supposedly fear being put out of work by a scary being known as the “carbon tax.” Anti-climate legislation groups like the national Chamber of Commerce claim to be protecting Mom and Pop businesses when they lobby US senators to vote no on a bill like the American Power Act. Yet the Chamber of Commerce and like-minded organizations may actually be more worried about the interests of Big Coal and Big Oil than they are about small businesses. Findings of a newly released poll suggest the majority of US small business owners actually support clean energy legislation.

According to the poll, which was commissioned by National Clean Fuels, Inc, 61% of US small business owners surveyed believe acting to reduce climate change by moving toward clean energy will help the US economy. Perhaps even more importantly, 58% say they want their businesses to be participators in this shift to clean energy. Two thirds of small business owners surveyed said they thought a clean energy and climate bill would raise their operating costs—but the majority stated they would support such legislation anyway. It seems small business owners have made the connection that passing a climate bill will benefit the economy in the end, and they’re willing to work and even make a short-term sacrifice to make this happen.

More and more, it seems the arguments big business alliances simply don’t hold up to reality. The mainstream media continues to buy into the stereotype that small businesses owners and those struggling to make ends meet automatically oppose limiting carbon emissions. Yet while that may be true in individual cases, it’s no longer accurate to say it is true all the time—or even a majority of the time. According to pro-polluter lobbyists, passing a bill to reduce climate change means exacting a “carbon tax” on low income people and communities of color working hard to pay their energy bills. But in a significant finding of the recent poll, it turns out African American and Hispanic small business owners are actually more supportive of clean energy and climate legislation than other demographics.

So why do the Chamber of Commerce and its ilk continue to say they’re standing up for the poor and small businesses when opposing any effort to limit the effects of climate change? Well, probably because standing up for the poor and small businesses sounds more attractive than sticking up for big polluters. The truth is that Big Coal, Big Oil, and other polluting industries have tremendous sway in national business alliances like the Chamber of Commerce, and these giant corporations are the ones really benefiting from polluter lobbyist activity.

It’s time to call out the situation for how it is: when polluter lobbyists push US senators not to vote for climate change legislation, they’re not sticking up for small business owners. Rather, they’re defending Big Coal and Big Oil’s right to pollute unencumbered, and protecting the interests of industries with an incentive to stall the clean energy economy as long as possible. Policymakers have a clear choice: to side with these polluters, or with ordinary Americans. This new poll just makes it all the more clear.

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