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America's Future: Energy & Climate Play Biggest Role

June 1, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - As the nation and Congress grapple with an energy and climate bill, many business leaders have taken exception to the effort to reduce carbon emissions, claiming it would hurt businesses. But some business executives see it a very different way. They head up socially-responsible companies that feel the only real sustainable growth must be responsible growth.

Gary Hirshberg, the president and "CE-Yo" of Stonyfield Farm, the world's largest producer of organic yogurt, says that in order to really get America back on track, the U.S. Senate must put aside partisan differences and pass a comprehensive energy bill.

"Every day that the Senate fails to pass comprehensive energy and climate policy, we're actually putting our economy at risk - not to mention our national security and obviously our future, as we see with what's going on in the Gulf."

There is a lot of resistance to an energy bill from a lot of corporate leaders, and Hirshberg says it all boils down to money; businesses want to make it, and they don't want to lose it by changing the way they operate. Hirshberg says "going green" has actually helped his company save money.

"We've generated $7.6 million of savings in the last three years from investments in clean energy or energy reductions or, for example, moving transportation over from truck to rail."

Hirshberg says that by creating clean energy in this country and by investing in jobs that go along with that, our environmental future, as well as our economic future, only stand to benefit.

"The reality is that other countries are already blowing by us, and we have no choice but to buy their products, meaning to export our money not only for energy that we import, but for technology too. So this is an environmental necessity, but even more I think it's an economic necessity."

A climate bill introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) currently sits in the Senate, and whether or not it will be considered this year continues to be the topic of much discussion.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA