The Good Economist May 2016 - Page 9

The Good Economist 9

It is for this reason that small businesses broadly support stronger regulation of hazardous chemicals. A 2012 national poll of small business owners found that “small business owners are concerned about the threat posed by chemicals to the health of humans and the environment, and are supportive of regulation aimed at mitigating that threat.” The poll also concluded that “concern over the health risks posed to human and environmental health by toxic chemicals” and “support for stricter government regulations to increase transparency and accountability” are both “shared among Democratic and Republican small business owners.”

Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposed changes will keep critical information from the communities around these facilities and from the EPA itself, and they won’t require any facilities to switch to safer chemicals and processes even when those are already available and affordable.

Modernizing the existing EPA RMP is critical to economic sustainability. In the past decade, there have been numerous chemical-related releases, explosions, injuries, and deaths that could have been avoided if the proper regulations had been in place. In Pennsylvania alone, there are 528 RMP chemical facilities, holding more than 39,000 tons of toxic chemicals. Eleven of these are high risk chemical facilities, which would each put over 100,000 people at risk in the case of an accident. In addition to the cost of life, chemical facility incidents have led to $2 billion in property damages. The local economy cannot run efficiently and sustainably with the constant threat to life and property our current set of regulations allows.

their fair share in taxes. A 2014 report by U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that 82 of the 100 largest publicly traded U.S. companies diverted revenue offshore to avoid taxes. Small businesses, in turn, are proud to pay taxes and invest in their communities. However, this commitment to domestic investment should not be at the expense of multinational corporations. Pennsylvania small businesses would need to pay an average of $4,217 in additional taxes in order to make up the difference in government revenue lost by tax avoidance.

Businesses should compete on the provision of goods and services, not their ability to hire special interest lobbyist. For this reason, the small business community has shown such strong support for measures to close offshore tax loopholes. Sixty-four percent of small business owners support ending the ability of corporations to defer paying U.S. taxes indefinitely on income diverted overseas, according to a 2013 poll conducted by the Main Street Alliance and American Sustainable Business Council.

What you need to know about this emerging policy

For small businesses, where employees often work long hours and are earning more than $455 per week, the proposed rule could be significant. If multiple employees are routinely working beyond normal work hours, overtime pay could reasonably increase personnel expenses.

In a letter to the EPA Administrator, SBN urged the agency to pursue bolder action. Efforts to modernize chemical safety would be greatly enhanced by adopting the following changes:

Access to information on chemical hazards, alternatives, incidents, and inspections.

Training support and opportunities that allow direct engagement with chemical plant planners, managers, and decision makers on hazards, prevention, and response planning.

Access to reports on incidents and implemented alternatives at the city, county, state, and national levels.

Assurance that safety audits are being performed by independent, third-party experts not beholden to the facilities and companies they are inspecting.