Policy Matters

3 environmental policies business can push for now

Take the resistance to city hall.
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Take the resistance to city hall.

Since January, the anti-science tsunami submerging the Capitol has reached dangerous new levels. While it’s vital to do all we can to protect federal sustainability policies, much of the successful forward action has shifted to the states. Business leaders can leverage their influence with policymakers by supporting a tax on carbon emissions, the California bill on cleaning product ingredients disclosure, and new principles for protecting water.

1. Take the carbon tax fight to the states

Climate change is already causing costly damage, and with even greater threats on the horizon, the need to cut carbon pollution is urgent. The simplest, most effective way to do so is to enact a carbon tax: Implemented correctly, this tax would dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. What’s more, capturing the previously externalized costs of carbon pollution is fair to all stakeholders and would foster a market-based transition to a cleaner energy economy. With Washington unwilling to institute effective policies to combat climate change, the states must lead the way. ASBC is working with several states to support state-level carbon tax bills that should be prototypes for effective national action, state by state.

What’s at stake

Effectively fighting climate change is vital to business. Disruptive weather events triggered by climate change are becoming more frequent and severe, inflicting higher electricity and insurance rates, lost revenue due to disrupted operations and more expensive health care costs on business. Business thrives in a stable environment, but climate change already makes it hard for companies to accurately plan for future costs. As climate change becomes more extreme, it will be even harder to do business.

What you can do
Voice your influential support as a business. If you operate in Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut, sign on to the American Sustainable Business Council's (ASBC) action letters to support their state-level carbon tax bills. If you’re in another state, sign our national carbon tax letter.  

2. Come clean on ingredient labeling

Manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to disclose ingredients on their labels, as companies in numerous other industries are. Many consumers need to choose products free from chemicals of concern; others want to accurately compare products. To let the marketplace operate transparently and meet consumer demand, regulation should require on-package ingredients information.

On their own, many businesses already provide on-package disclosure of the fragrances and other ingredients they use  and customers reward them with sales. These companies prove firms can provide accurate ingredient information without harming their bottom line. All companies should provide this information for transparency and a level playing field  key principles of a market economy.

ASBC has organized businesses to support ingredient disclosure legislation in California (SB 258) and at the national level (expected introduction this month). Under the banner of Companies for Safer Chemicals, these businesses are calling for on-package chemical ingredient listing. California’s SB 258, introduced by State Sen. Ricardo Lara, has passed two committees and is expected for a full California Senate vote in June.

What’s at stake
Without uniform, on-package ingredient labeling, consumers will continue to be in the dark about what cleaning products may be harmful to their health and environment. Lack of useful, industry-wide product labeling has begun to erode consumer confidence. To prevent increased use of homemade formulations perceived to be safer and to incentivize product innovation, the cleaning product industry as a whole must provide full, on-label ingredient information.

What you can do
If you’re in California, Join ASBC’s Companies for Safer Chemicals campaign for ingredient disclosure to help pass SB 258. Otherwise, sign our national letter telling Congress to make cleaning product ingredient labeling the law nationwide.

3. Clean water: Human right, business resource

Clean water is not only a public health issue, it’s a business issue. From water that can be cost-effectively used in production or must be expensively treated, to water that enhances or imperils workers’ and customers’ health, clean water is a business resource. Sustainable business leaders understand that not only is access to clean water is a fundamental human right, it is a necessary ingredient to most businesses and the economy as a whole. Therefore, business leaders should hold governments accountable for protecting clean water sources and infrastructure, and keeping urban, agricultural and industrial activities from directly or indirectly impairing our source waters.

What’s at stake
Nearly 50 years after the Clean Water Act passed, many U.S. bodies of water are still not good quality, or are not even classified for quality. Escalating the problem, a recent Trump executive order requires the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to start rolling back the Clean Water Rule.

Under the Clean Water Rule, 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands that contribute to drinking water are designated as protected by the government. The rule matters because one in three Americans get their drinking water from sources connected to these streams and wetlands.

What you can do
ASBC’s Clean Water is Good for Business campaign gives business a strong voice to advocate for reduced nutrient pollution, improved water infrastructure, and policies that make businesses more resilient to floods and droughts. Add your voice: Endorse the Clean Water is Good for Business principles