Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives and environmental policy are essential, but not complete solutions by themselves.
We also need laws, oversight and guidelines to help shape our economy and planet to one that is just and sustainable.
With all businesses following the same rules, the competitive floor can be set at a level that protects the environment and ensures a quality and quantity of jobs consistent with human dignity. Individual business owners can make a big difference by advocating for policies that spur innovation that builds on such a platform.
Here are three pro-sustainable business policy items the American Sustainable Business Council is working on in conjunction with many other organizations.
1. End oil and gas subsidies
Fossil fuel incentives in the U.S. total $8 billion per year, more than five times the amount of subsidies for renewables. That discrepancy is much more than an indication of outmoded policy. It is both imposing additional costs on our future economy from pollution and climate change as well as putting the clean energy industry at a significant financial disadvantage. A clearer case of upside-down policy is hard to find.
What’s at stake?
Closing tax loopholes and subsidies to the oil industry would help Americans and American businesses. These subsidies don’t lower consumer prices and don’t encourage development. Instead, they waste tax dollars for both consumers and businesses.
According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the Big 5 oil companies increasingly are redirecting billions of dollars into dividends and stock purchases, and much of the rest of the increase in gasoline prices is due to speculation. Removing billions in tax breaks isn’t going to decrease their profits or increase prices at the pump. Instead, if we repurposed those subsidies for renewable and clean energy, imagine what a boost that could give to putting our energy economy on a better path for the future.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is spearheading an effort to end these subsidies with proposed legislation called Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act of 2013.
What can you do?
Forward this letter to your senator and ask them to support ending oil and gas subsidies.
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