Small businesses support stringent fuel economy standards

Lawmakers continue to push for anti-regulation and automakers successfully fought to weaken Obama's proposed 62-mile-per-gallon CAFE standard, but what do actual small business owners think of stringent fuel economy regulations? A new poll found that the vast majority seem to support 54.5 mpg.

Take, for example, small business owner Adam Lee, chairman of Lee Auto Malls. His family sells vehicles in Maine and has been doing so since 1936. Lee says higher fuel efficiency standards will bring in loads of business, noting that "people want the best gas mileage they can get because it saves money – stronger fuel economy requirements will help me give them that mileage and they'll in turn give me more business."

The poll in question was released this week by Small Business Majority and found that 87 percent of small business owners support federal action to increase fuel efficiency and 80 percent would stand behind a CAFE standard of 60-plus mpg by 2025.

Higher CAFE standards require more (or at least changed) regulation. But there is a strong anti-regulation push among political conservatives in the U.S., who often claim that regulation "kills jobs." Is this accurate? Not according to small business owners. A mere 13 percent of owners surveyed in the poll claim their business suffers most from regulatory restrictions, so most entrepreneurs believe the burden of our current economic situation could be lessened if dynamic policies, not only in regards to fuel efficiency, are implemented.

Now, then, who produced this poll? Small Business Majority calls itself "an advocacy group founded and run by small business owners to focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today" but, back in 2009, the New York Times claimed Small Business Majority had "all the hallmarks of shadowy interest group." You can read all about the group here.
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Small Business Majority: Small business owners don't believe the anti-regulatory hype

Washington, D.C. – Small business owners support strong national standards to increase energy innovation, according to a new national opinion poll of 1,200 small business owners released today by Small Business Majority. The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found that 87 percent of small business owners agree that "improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small businesses." It also found strong support for higher mileage standards for passenger vehicles and the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, refineries and other major emitters.

"Small businesses understand that to survive in this tough economy they need to innovate, and that strong energy efficiency standards will assist them in doing so by helping them save money in their own business and creating new market opportunities," said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. "Right now, helping small businesses grow and put Americans back to work should be the number one priority."

When asked about the biggest challenges facing their small businesses, only 13 percent identified "government regulations" as their top concern. Instead, 43 percent of business owners said the rising costs of doing business-including the cost of fuel, electricity, heating and cooling costs-was a top concern and 46 percent cited uncertainty about the economy.

"Small businesses owners get that stronger standards translates into more jobs and a boost to our struggling economy: a win-win for everyone. As the former chairman of the small business committee, I know that small businesses are the drivers of our economy, and we'd be wise to listen to our primary job creators," said Senator John Kerry.

Small business owners also overwhelmingly support EPA regulation of carbon emissions. By a 3:1 margin, small business owners across the nation support the EPA regulating carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Support is also high in states with large manufacturing sectors like Michigan with 73 percent and Ohio with 75 percent of small business owner's supportive of the EPA regulating carbon emissions. The supportive trend continued in other oversampled states of California, 71 percent and Minnesota, 73 percent.

"EPA regulation of carbon emissions would directly affect my business by encouraging investments in renewable energy," said Stefanie Penn Spear, president of Expedite Renewable Energy in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. "In addition, the economic uncertainty small business owners experience today would decline, since regulation of carbon emissions would stabilize the market place, and entrepreneurs would have concrete goals for the future and begin to innovate accordingly."

On the issue of passenger vehicle fuel efficiency, Small Business Majority finds that 87 percent of small business owners overwhelmingly support adopting strong standards now, and 80 percent support requiring the auto industry to increase mileage to 60 mpg by 2025.

In July, President Obama announced an agreement with automakers to adopt a federal 54.5 mpg standards by the year 2025.

"Higher fuel standards would allow me to expand my business immediately and they would boost my employees' spending power as consumers," said Jonathan Tobias, owner of Michigan Green Cabs in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "In my industry, employees pay fuel prices for the vehicles I supply. If I could give drivers 60 mpg cars, they'd be lining up to work for me since they'd net more pay than they would elsewhere."

Small business owners say stronger gas mileage standards will help American automakers innovate, improve efficiency and compete in the global economy; 73 percent of poll respondents believe the federal government should do more to make American car companies innovate and 71 percent believe American car companies do not innovate enough.

Other findings from the poll include:

Small business owners recognize the value of energy efficiency, clean energy and cutting waste.

68 percent of small business owners have installed energy-saving measures such as energy efficient light bulbs, appliances, windows and insulation.
78 percent recycle.
12 percent have bought hybrid, electric, or alternative fuel vehicles.

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Poll results in this statement represent findings from an Internet survey of 1,257 small business owners nationwide conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Small Business Majority, +/- 2.76% margin of error.

Small Business Majority is a national nonpartisan small business advocacy organization focused on solving the biggest problems facing America's 28 million small businesses. We conduct extensive opinion and economic research and work with small business owners, policy experts and elected officials nationwide to bring small business voices to the public policy table.

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