(The Center Square) – Climate change policies may be bad for small businesses, says the vice president for government affairs at a New Jersey business association.
Ray Cantor, speaking to The Center Square, said climate change policies may drive up the cost of energy. He's with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
That has a direct impact on all businesses, especially small businesses.
“I don't think at this point in time, we're really seeing any serious impacts of climate change from a physical perspective, not that there won't be changes in the future,” Cantor said. “But I think a primary impact on small business as of right now is really the cost of our decarbonization policies.”
An immediate concern for businesses are policies that may force changes in technology to things such as electric boilers and other less carbon intensive devices, which Cantor said can be expensive.
A few months ago, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection adopted the California-advanced clean truck program. That will require over a period of time, all mid- to heavy duty trucks to be electric vehicles, he said.
“Unless technology and costs changed significantly over the next decade, that's going to have a significant impact, especially on small independent truck companies or independent truck drivers who may own their own truck,” Cantor said.
The Environmental Protection Agency has yet to ban natural gas boilers of a certain size and require them to be electric also, he said. But that will have a significant impact as it progresses.
“Any policy that's going to drive us more toward cleaner sources of power can also drive up electric costs. We always need to be taking into account what the cost of energy is going to be,” he said.
Much has to happen over the next several decades, such as infrastructure for the grid for charging stations and increased electrical supply generation, all of which will have costs.
“We've been for quite some time asking our state leaders to tell us who it's all going to cost,” Cantor said. “They were supposed to do a ratepayer impact study, like three years ago; they never did it.”
Cantor's business association believes that with any policy, the costs need to be considered. Will it impact the reliability of the system?
Climate change policy from the Securities and Exchange Commission may impact those businesses that are publicly traded, he said.
Eileen Kean, state director for New Jersey of the National Federation of Independent Business, says SEC and other regulations can hurt business.
“We're always leery of government regulation, because the impact it places on small businesses is never part of the consideration process,” she said.
The other part of this equation is that a small business right now is dealing with employee shortages, wage increases, inflation and gas price increases.
“And then to think small business, first of all has the bandwidth to fill out these to do this paperwork and this reporting that's required,” Kean said. “They will have to hire attorneys and accountants to support them and getting their paperwork completed.”
At the same time, the SEC has the same employee shortage problems that small businesses have.
"So what happens to the required reports?" she asked.
The September legislative agenda is an upcoming issue for small business, with lawmakers considering the regulation of packaging of goods.
“They're looking at the environmental impact of packaging. And that definitely will have an effect on businesses,” she said. “Because remember, here in New Jersey, now, we've banned plastic bags. And businesses have already had to scramble to keep up with that in terms of changing to the paper bags.”