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WHY I'M GOING TO WASHINGTON

Stefanie Spear  |  07/17/11 @ 12:29pm

One of the most important aspects of my business is taking advantage of opportunities that secure my bottom line, strengthen the economy and foster a cleaner environment. That's why this week, I'm taking a brief leave of absence from running my business, Expedite Renewable Energy, and heading to Washington, DC to make sure my representatives are focusing on policies that improve my business while protecting the environment and human health.  Politicians like to talk about how they stand up for small businesses, but sometimes it's hard to figure out if their actions jive with their rhetoric. One way I can tell if someone's walk matches their talk is if they support laws that create an atmosphere conducive to small business growth, such as the Clean Air Act.The Clean Air Act has ushered in more than 40 years of technological innovation, job creation and expanded U.S. exports-things that benefit small business owners like myself and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth benefiting us all. But the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), responsible for enforcing the Clean Air Act, is coming under threat from members of Congress who would limit its ability to do its job. Specifically, the EPA is preparing to update clean air standards and reduce the amount of the toxic pollution in the air that leads to increased health related-problems and fewer opportunities for small businesses. Nationwide, the new EPA standards would save as much as $100 billion a year once they are fully implemented.  But some lawmakers are working overtime to delay these new standards and to gut old ones by any means possible. As a small business owner who wants to help this country become a global leader in clean energy, I simply can't support any member of Congress who wants to tear the Clean Air Act down.We know clean air standards work. Despite critics' claims, the economic benefits of this important law have far outweighed the costs. According to a report by Small Business Majority, in the last two decades emissions of the most common air pollutants have declined by 41 percent, while the GDP has increased by 64 percent. Existing standards have also boosted the economy by up to $148 billion and pending standards for cleaner air could add another $457 billion.  My company helps other businesses invest in solar and wind projects, so the more demand there is for clean energy, the more my services are needed. For my employees and myself, updating the Clean Air Act means an influx in business that will help me expand and create jobs. A delay of the EPA's updated standards, on the other hand, will stall the innovation and research that lead to job growth and new business opportunities. One thing we don't need in this fragile economy is policies that don't work and compromise the most important environmental laws of our country. Gutting the Clean Air Act and all of its accomplishments is unacceptable, and I'm heading to Washington, along with dozens of other small business owners, seniors, children and families from across the country, to tell Representative La Tourette just that. Because any action by Congress to block the EPA from updating the Clean Air Act is an attack on the future of all Americans, including entrepreneurs like me.  As small business owners and leaders in our communities, we shouldn't stand for it. And our representatives in Washington shouldn't either.

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