Businesses Agree: Climate Bill Is Good for the Economy

More than 80 leading businesses, labor unions, faith, national security and environmental organizations launched a national print ad campaign Thursday calling for swift action by the Congress to pass clean energy and climate legislation.

The breadth of groups behind the ads is significant – representing regions across the country and a range of political views. In the midst of the Monday-morning quarterbacking about what Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts means for the legislation, it is important to remember what the legislation means to Americans.

This ad campaign reminds us that Americans from all walks of life-- from the board room to the factory floor, from churches to the frontlines-- believe that clean energy and climate legislation means more economic opportunity, greater security and less pollution.

This sentiment reaches far beyond the 80 groups represented in the ads.

A new poll by the Benenson Research Group conducted in 16 battleground states for the 2010 elections found that nearly 60 percent of voters support a energy bill that includes a cap on carbon emissions, and 56 percent said they would be more likely to re-elect their Senator if he or she voted for the bill.

There is support across the nation for clean energy and climate legislation, but I find the enthusiasm among the business community especially encouraging.

Corporations as diverse as Con Edison, Michelin, PSG&E, Toyota, and Campbell’s Soup signed on to the ad campaign--companies that have interests across the nation and on both sides of the political aisle. But that doesn’t surprise me.

When I went to the White House to talk with President Obama about clean energy and climate change legislation last month, I wasn’t only in the company of environmental leaders.

Executives from Duke Energy, DuPont, Exelon, and Honeywell were there too. And they weren’t there to block the bill; they were there to ask President Obama to put his weight behind it.  

These giants from utility, energy, consumer and manufacturing sectors agree that as soon as America puts a cap on carbon pollution, it will unleash a wave of private investment and technological innovation in low-carbon technologies like efficient building materials, renewable power sources, and hybrid cars.

Another business effort that has a rapidly expanding membership is the American Businesses for Clean Energy that now has more than 1,800 companies which have pledged their support for limiting greenhouse gases to help shift to a clean energy economy. This shows the range of businesses, from industry leaders to mom-and-pop shops across the country, that want action.

All of these companies also know that the clean energy market is global, and that their competitors are already securing a place in it. We need to take swift action in order to unleash energy innovation here at home. If we don’t, we will lose the clean tech race to China and India, and we may fall behind other contenders such as Germany and Spain.

The best way to secure a place in the global clean energy market is through smart policies. We need government incentives to get technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace. And we need American workers to get the job done.

That is why NRDC has joined with these companies, labor unions, and other groups to call on our elected officials to lead the way to a cleaner, safer and healthier future.