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Policy Matters

Beyond elections: 3 sustainable policies for business to back now

Amid the frenzy surrounding the 2016 elections, important policy debates are taking place on clean power, water and chemicals.

As election season kicks into high gear, sustainability policy cannot take a back seat to the many other issues on the table.

Whoever takes the reins in January will face an array of ongoing economic challenges. Without sustainability, all other issues will be increasingly difficult to remedy.

Companies of all sizes and in all sectors are looking for policy action on sustainability, and thousands of these firms have joined with the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) to make their voices heard. Working with many other organizations, ASBC brings the views of responsible corporate citizens to policymakers’ attention.

We encourage business leaders to keep an eye out for three issues in particular. When these come before Congress, make your views known to lawmakers.

1. Show your support for the Clean Power Plan

Last month, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s rule to cut carbon pollution from our nation’s power plants. The rule was blocked from taking effect by the Supreme Court while it worked through the legal process.

Meanwhile, the DC Circuit Court elected to hear the case en banc — that is, with every judge on the court taking part in the case, instead of a typical three-judge panel.

The Clean Power Plan would require 30 percent cuts in carbon emissions from existing power plants, using 2005 levels as the baseline — some of the most significant potential carbon emissions cuts in U.S. history. States would be assigned their own specific goals to meet, and be given broad leeway in determining how best to cut their emissions to meet those goals.

What’s at stake

With the impacts of climate change becoming ever more dangerous, the Clean Power Plan represents the best tool available right now to tackle the problem.

It’s also a priority for small businesses: Nearly two-thirds, according to polling from the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), said they support government regulation  to reduce emissions from power plants. Nearly one in five say severe weather events associated with climate change already have affected them.

What you can do

Policymakers need to hear from you that the Clean Power Plan is good for businesses like yours, and it’s a crucial tool to fight climate change.

One option? Add your business voice on our campaign page.

2. Protect the Clean Water Rule

Another major environmental initiative, the Clean Water Rule, also faces its own hurdles.

That rule would clarify the government’s definition of "waters of the United States" to include most seasonal and rain-dependent streams, as well as wetlands near rivers and streams, and thus expand protections for those bodies of water.

For the sake of the economy, the EPA needs to have the ability to protect clean water sources that our businesses rely on.

Some outside groups are asking the Supreme Court to move legal arguments to another court. Meanwhile, Congress continues to consider legislation to block the rule.

What’s at stake

The EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act has been in question for a decade, following a pair of Supreme Court decisions.

There is broad agreement that the EPA’s authority needs to be clarified. For the sake of the economy, the EPA needs to have the ability to protect clean water sources that our businesses rely on.

Polling released by ASBC found that 80 percent of small business owners nationwide support rules to protect upstream headwaters, as proposed in the Clean Water Rule.

What you can do

Even as the legal fight over the Clean Water Rule drags on, businesses still have the chance to show their support for improving America’s water infrastructure and taking steps to address runoff.

The more businesses speak on clean water, the more likely that Congress will drop efforts to remove protections. Speak up for clean water today.

3. Protect the Safer Choice program

The EPA’s Safer Choice program is under threat in Congress again. That program is a voluntary standard which lets companies dedicated to safer chemistry advertise that to consumers, using a small label on the bottle.

Nearly 500 companies participate in the program, including retailers such as Walmart, Target, Office Depot and Wegman’s. However, Congress is considering a spending bill that would bar the U.S. Department of Defense from using Safer Choice as a guideline for its procurement process.

The Defense Department’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request asked for $112.1 billion for procurement, meaning Safer Choice products could tap a huge market.

What’s at stake

ASBC joined with the Consumer Specialty Products Association and other groups to send a letter to Congress, arguing that the business community strongly opposes any attempt to weaken the program, including by cutting off its access to a significant market like the Defense Department.

Safer Choice is a prime example of how government and business can work together, and it helps improve consumer confidence by showing shoppers that the products they buy are held to a higher standard. Service members and military personnel deserve to have the same access to safer and effective products as their civilian counterparts.

What you can do

The Safer Choice program has support from businesses such as Earth Friendly Products, which have used it with great success, but more businesses need to speak up for the program in order to show Congress that it’s truly good for the economy.

Check out our Safer Choice campaign page for details on how you can weigh in.

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