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Business owners give state leaders, Gov. McAuliffe low ratings for making Va. competitive in growing clean energy economy, protecting environment
WASHINGTON-September 25, 2014-As world leaders meet this week to address climate change and 400,000 people march in the streets in New York City, a new survey shows that Virginia’s small business owners support state action to cut carbon pollution and believe that doing so will help Virginia’s economy.
At the same time, Virginia’s small business community is not entirely pleased with the job Gov. Terry McAuliffe has done protecting the state’s water, air, and overall environment.
According to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2):
• 63 percent of small business owners in Virginia think state leaders should do more to compete with other states to attract and develop more clean, renewable energy companies and jobs to Virginia. A similarly high number – 65 percent – voiced support for advancing energy efficiency.
• 52 percent of small business owners in Virginia think Gov. McAuliffe and the state legislature should support the federal standards to reduce carbon pollution produced by power plants.
• 60 percent of Virginia’s small business owners give Gov. McAuliffe a fair or poor rating or are not sure about the job he has done protecting the state’s water, air, and overall environment. Meanwhile, 84 percent of small business owners in Virginia believe protecting Virginia’s good environment and quality of life is important to their state’s economic growth.
In Virginia Beach, E2 Mid-Atlantic chapter director and retired Air Force colonel Dave Belote said: “To build a stronger foundation for Virginia’s small businesses and spur innovation, I ask our governor to publicly support the federal Clean Power Plan. That’s a step Gov. McAuliffe can take – right now – that will help grow our economy and protect our environment right here in Virginia.”
E2 executive director Bob Keefe, an Alexandria resident, said: “It’s crystal-clear that Virginia’s business community wants more clean, renewable energy – and the jobs and economic growth that come with it. The governor has talked the talk when it comes to the economy and the environment; now he needs to walk the walk on the Clean Power Plan – and deliver.”
Jim Williams, an analyst at Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling, said: “Virginia’s small business owners clearly believe a strong economy and a clean environment go hand-in-hand. While they’re worried about climate change – and there’s support for federal and state action to address climate change – Virginia business owners aren’t too positive on the jobs the governor and the General Assembly have been doing to protect the environment.”
The newly released polling was part of a survey of more than 340 small business owners from across the state done for E2 September 19-21, 2014. Poll respondents represented diverse sectors of the economy, with the majority owning businesses in the service, retail, wholesale trade, finance, insurance or real estate industries.
In other poll results:
• Nearly 80 percent of small business owners in Virginia think it is important to safeguard the state’s clean water, clean air, and environment in order to attract and grow businesses in Virginia.
• Nearly 70 percent think clean air, clean water, and reducing carbon pollution are important to attracting tourists to Virginia.
Under the federal Clean Power Plan announced in June, states like Virginia have an opportunity to determine how best to meet the new limits on power plant pollution through a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other options.
Virginia has abundant clean energy resources, including solar energy resources and existing offshore wind leases that if fully developed could power 700,000 homes and create 11,600 jobs within the next 20 years. Strong, state-level implementation of the Clean Power Plan could also create as many as 5,600 direct energy efficiency jobs in Virginia and save commercial and industrial businesses $531 million in 2020. For a fact sheet with more information on the state’s clean energy potential, please see here (http://cleanenergyworksforus.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Virginia-Fact-Sheet-Web1.pdf). For links to the fact sheet’s original sources, please see here. (http://cleanenergyworksforus.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Virginia-Endnotes.pdf)