“Right now, the system is skewed so that it favors big business at the expense of local business,” said Sandy Wiggins, the board chair of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE. “We’ve got to fix that.”
Not surprisingly, most of the interchanges between ASBC members and White House officials were friendly. Talking about farm policy and organic agriculture, Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield said: “The Obama administration has been better on these issues than any in my lifetime.”
Hilda Solis, the Secretary of Labor, was greeted warmly by the group, and returned the favor. “I want to salute you,” she said. “You care about your employees. You care about your neighborhoods. You care about the quality of life in the communities where you do business.”
Occasionally, friction arose. When Richard Kaufman, a senior advisor to the Department of Energy, said cheap and abundant natural gas will be good for the economy, he got pushback. But, he said, companies that care about the environment should support exploration of natural gas which, for the most part, will replace coal as an electricity source.
“When fracking is done appropriately ... I think we are comfortable that this is a good thing for the United States,” Kaufman said. “We are not going to be able, in the short run, to produce the energy we need in the United States from renewable energy.”