Wednesday, September 30, 2009

'Competitive edge’ big concern in climate change debate

President Obama delivered a clear message before the United Nations on climate change. But there’s a lot more ground to cover, and numerous specifics to flesh out. The Minnesota Chamber’s biggest concern is the impact of any legislation on the cost of energy. Minnesota historically has had competitive prices that in turn give our companies a competitive edge in the global marketplace. Whether we maintain that edge remains to be seen with any national or international agreement.

To be clear, Minnesota businesses are strong protectors of the environment. We’ve been major players in shaping state legislation to reduce smokestack emissions and increase the use of renewable energy resources. In the larger arena, from the standpoint of Minnesota businesses, we’ll lobby to make certain any cure is not costlier than the disease. To put the issue in perspective, emissions from Minnesota contribute only 0.37 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide, according to 2006 statistics. China and the United States each contribute about 20 percent. Minnesota businesses are first in line to advocate for policies that protect the environment and ensure a vital economy. But it’s shortsighted to adopt policies that threaten the livelihood of Minnesota employers and employees and do little or nothing to address climate change on the global scene.

Climate change most appropriately is addressed on the national and international levels. Even then, businesses must know the rules and the impact on their bottom lines. Minnesota’s laws on mercury reduction and renewables have been driving energy costs up in recent years. We need to play close attention to these rising costs if we are to maintain a healthy state economy.

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