Small Business Groups Praise Obama’s Climate Stance, Call For Regulation Of Existing Power Plants

A coalition of groups representing over 150,000 American businesses and $9.5 trillion in collective assets signed a letter yesterday praising President Obama for his strong stance on climate policy in the State of the Union address.

In the letter, the business organizations Environmental Entrepreneurs, the American Sustainable Business Council, Ceres, and Green America Coming Together endorsed Obama’s new energy efficient and renewable power targets, as well as his commitment to “reduce carbon pollution, absent Congressional action, through existing federal authorities.” They also advocated for the executive branch to regulate carbon emissions from both new and existing power plants under the auspices of the Clean Air Act:

We understand the importance of certainty and clear market signals and believe national standards to reduce carbon pollution from new and existing power plants will clarify risks and opportunities for U.S. businesses, while also leading to technological innovation and investment in the domestic clean energy market… Ultimately, investing in cleaner technologies and more efficient resources can be a pathway to profit and prosperity, boosting economic growth and creating jobs while also providing competitive returns to investors.

We believe that the Clean Air Act currently presents the best option for reducing carbon pollution from power plants. We hope this Administration will quickly finalize the proposed Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants and, as required by the Clean Air Act, move forward to propose a carbon reduction program for existing power plants.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority and the obligation under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions should it determine they’re a danger to public health and the environment. The EPA reached that conclusion in 2009, and is already close to finalizing rules to regulate carbon pollution from new power plants. What’s lacking are rules for already existing power plants, but there are signs of movement in that direction.

In the State of the Union, Obama called for the United States to double the amount of renewable electricity it produces by 2020, and to double its energy efficiency by 2030. He also urged Congress to pass a market-style solution to climate change, such as the cap-and-trade bill put together by former Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) several years ago.

Obama did not explicitly call for extending the EPA’s reach to existing power plants in the speech, but he did bluntly state, “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

The letter from the business groups comes on the heels of another letter from the Small Business Majority expressing similar support: “Our polling found 87 percent of small business owners believe improving innovation and energy efficiency are highly effective ways to increase prosperity for small businesses.”