WASHINGTON--- Today Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship urged the Bush Administration to invest more resources to help small businesses become more energy efficient and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Although small businesses represent half of the nation’s economy and are responsible for half of the country’s energy consumption, the government spends less than two percent of the Energy Star program’s $50 million annual budget reaching out to help small businesses. Senators Joe Lieberman (I/D-Conn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), joined Kerry and Snowe in calling for a larger commitment to helping small firms.

“There’s no greater threat to the earth than global climate change, but by leaving small businesses out of the solution, the Bush Administration shows they’re not serious about tackling the problem,” said Kerry. “Small businesses can lead the way toward a cleaner, greener future, so the least the federal government can do is dedicate $2 million -- just 4 percent-- of Energy Star funds to help entrepreneurs reduce their energy costs and foster green innovation.”

“As the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and as a longstanding steward of the environment, I am alarmed by the Administration's lack of commitment to promoting small business energy efficiency," said Senator Snowe. "According to a National Small Business Association survey, 40 percent of small businesses are still not familiar with the Energy Star product label and technical support programs that are available. And at a Committee hearing last year, the Environmental Protection Agency testified that it has only two full-time employees devoted to the Energy Star small business program. I am pleased to join my bipartisan colleagues in urging the Administration to properly fund the EPA’s Energy Star small business program.”

In a letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which implements the Energy Star program, the Senators urged the Bush Administration to increase funding for the Energy Star small business program to $2 million a year, in order to provide technical assistance and resources necessary to small businesses.

Senators Kerry and Snowe successfully secured provisions to aid small firms in becoming more energy efficient in the energy bill the Senate will vote on in the near future. The provisions will:

  • Require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement within 90 days an energy efficiency program that was mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act;
  • Establish an audit program to increase energy efficiency using Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs);
  • Promote financing agreements between small businesses and utility companies to increase energy efficiency;
  • Create a telecommuting pilot program at the SBA responsible for educational materials and outreach to small businesses on the benefits of telecommuting;
  • Allow small businesses conducting energy efficiency or renewable energy research and development to be given priority consideration in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs; and
  • Establish loans for small firms to invest in use of renewable sources of energy in their business.

To read the full text of the letter to EPA Administrator Steve Johnson, please click here.