Members Respond to Decarbonization Efforts
article by Samantha Roberts | Director of Business Advocacy
The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce recently released a joint press release highlighting the recent efforts of the local Chambers of Commerce in addressing a potential ban on natural gas and other fossil fuel infrastructure in Eugene for newly constructed buildings.
Recognizing the significant impact this could have immediately and in the future for local businesses, the Eugene and Springfield Chambers of Commerce together developed and administered a survey of their members to measure business community sentiment on these issues and the impacts such policies could have on local organizations, jobs, and families.
The 24-question survey contained three parts- demographic questions, questions gauging awareness of local policy efforts, and questions relating to businesses current natural gas use and policy preferences. More than 235 local businesses responded to the survey.
Key highlights of survey results include:
- 79% of respondents representing commercial businesses do not support a ban on natural gas infrastructure in new homes and 82% do not support a ban on natural gas in commercial and industrial buildings
- Over 40 local businesses, representing as many as 1,000 local jobs, noted they would relocate their business if a ban went into place
- Over 90% of respondents shared they believe a decision on the prohibition of natural gas in new homes and commercial buildings should be left to voters, not the Eugene City Council
- More than three-quarters of respondents believe that any carbon reduction-related mandates should be taken at a state or federal level
Brittany Quick-Warner, Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, says of this issue, “To date we have not seen local economic data or a robust outreach effort from the City of Eugene to better understand how these policies will impact our local businesses and employees. Sweeping policy decisions such as these should come with a “triple-bottom-line” analysis, weighing environmental, social and economic data. We appreciate the City Council agreeing to do more outreach to businesses this fall and we hope Council will take seriously the concerns and feedback from locally owned and operated businesses in their decisions. Much more information is needed. This is just a start.”
Vonnie Mikkelsen, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO added, “The survey is a sobering reminder that employers, namely small and locally owned businesses, are gravely concerned about the implications of such policy that will limit their ability to operate here locally or remain competitive in other markets. Our community would be better served by tackling the problems we face together, in dialogue, with transparency, knowing that where business goes, so goes our community.”
These survey results illuminate the potential, significant economic impacts of these policy decisions and pose important questions for the City of Eugene and City Council as they consider energy and consumer options within a balanced decarbonization strategy.