Business owners say environment should be priority

NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners tend to complain about regulations, but according to a survey released Thursday, they want the government to be more active when it comes to protecting the climate and environment.

In the survey of 515 business owners by the American Sustainable Business Council, an advocacy group, 72 percent of the participants said it should be a government priority to help U.S. companies make the country more competitive in clean energy technology. Nearly two-thirds of the owners said they would support the creation of a national standard mandating that 20 percent of all electricity come from clean energy sources by 2020. Solar and wind power are examples of clean energy sources.

Sixty-three percent said they support a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule that would require existing power plants to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, 62 percent opposed continuing government subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industries.

The American Sustainable Business Council says it believes that protecting the environment is one way to help keep the economy growing. It says damage to the environment and the climate cause infrastructure and health problems and strains the nation's energy grid. All of those consequences have a negative economic impact, the council says.

Small business advocacy groups including the National Federation of Independent Business are vocal opponents of federal regulations, and the EPA is a frequent target of complaints. However, groups like the American Sustainable Business Council and the Small Business Majority argue that changes in environmental and energy policies would benefit the economy and in turn, small business. The council says that steps like investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency would create more jobs and make the economy more resilient.

The survey was conducted nationwide during March.

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