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Business Leaders Highlight Impact of Climate Change on Economy, Bottom Line

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In anticipation of the release of final carbon emissions standards included in the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan, senior executives from small and medium-sized companies across the country highlighted how severe weather affects their businesses and the importance of taking action to curb climate change.

In particular, several business leaders emphasized that taking action to become more sustainable has benefitted their bottom lines. Other business leaders reflected on the negative effects severe weather has had on their companies' success and called for stronger policies to combat climate change.

As a part of the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever federal limits on the amount of carbon dioxide that power plants are permitted to release. As states develop their individual plans to meet the Clean Power Plan standards, many business leaders plan to work with state and local officials to create an implementation plan that makes the best use of each state's energy and innovation strengths.

Below is a sample of quotes from Business Forward's nationwide network of business leaders. If you would like to speak with one of them about how climate change policy or severe weather affects their business, please contact Rachel Harvey at RHarvey@BusinessFWD.org or 202-470-1318.

ARIZONA

"The hotter temperatures in the summer and changing weather patterns make people more reluctant to attend classes during heat spells, and it gets more difficult to cool the building," said Bill Christie, Director at New Tomorrow International Learning Center in Tucson, Ariz.

CALIFORNIA

"Lucid is excited about the market transformation as signaled by President Obama's actions on climate and the Clean Power Plan in order to enable businesses to optimize energy costs, comfort, and productivity in their buildings," said Sitar Mody, Senior Director at Lucid, an integrated building management software company in Oakland, Calif.

"The nation that leads in developing clean energy will lead the next economic boom, and I want that country to be the United States. Action on climate change is the first step toward making that happen," said Deep Patel, Founder and CEO of GigaWatt, Inc., a solar energy company in Placentia, Calif.

"As a chef, I worry that extreme weather, like California's drought, may become the new normal," said Patrick Mulvaney, chef and proprietor of Mulvaney's B &L, a restaurant in Sacramento, Calif. "Our agricultural partners face the greatest risks, and many businesses will experience climate change through limited supply and poor supply-chain quality."

"The time is now for sustainability to become the culture in freight movement," said Sherwood Egbert, Vice President of Business Development at Lavi Systems, Inc. in Van Nuys, Calif.. "By offering solutions that profit from environmental awareness, businesses may not only increase their bottom lines, but also improve their public perception as environmental business innovators."

"Addressing climate change shouldn't be looked at as an economic drain. Moving away from fossil fuels is actually an opportunity for the U.S. to develop a more competitive chemical industry. Our large agricultural industry will be a great foundation for a sustainable economic future," said Randy Cameron, President of Instrumental Polymer Technologies, LLC in Westlake Village, Calif.

"We are experiencing severe drought conditions in our state, and most recently are under tight restrictions and may soon face financial penalties for not reducing consumption," said Theresa Winterling, the owner of Poly Clean Center, a dry cleaning plant in Atherton, Calif. "Water is an essential aspect of my business. We need boilers to create steam, washing machines for laundering shirts and bedding, etc. These are necessities, and thriving and increasing my business would naturally proportionately increase my water consumption. Yet with continued restrictions and increases in the cost of water, my business will suffer and possibly not succeed. The California drought is part of an overall change in climate patterns, which must be addressed immediately and taken seriously in how it will affect all aspects of our lives."

"Severe weather ruins crops. Crops are impacted by the out of ordinary rain storms. Crops are ruined in the fields. Produce never reaches the market. Everyone is affected by this severe weather. No food, no jobs," said Rose Ann Martinez, Owner of International Immigration, Inc. in Fresno, Calif.

"Decade by decade we've been running out of water here in California, with the latest drought the most severe I've seen in my 58 years," said David Hillman, Manager of Solar For Buyers, LLC.

"Climate chaos is so slow and seemingly subtle and even innocuous that when it becomes fully acknowledged by cynics it will be too late," said Rick Van Schoik, Portfolio Director at North American Research Partnership in Encinitas, Calif. "Every politician that must explain the cumulative destruction by floods, storms, and drought must also explain that the train wreck is happening now."

"The current drought in California is affecting my life, daily. The wildlife, the vegetation, my property, my animals, my family and I all are impacted by the incredibly low rainfalls. When these essential elements begin to become scarce it has a snowball effect on all that depends on it," said Paul Ramos, CEO of PDR Consulting in Buellton, Calif. "We have the solutions as individuals, communities, states and countries to do the right thing. We must stand together and make the right choices... These are the things that supersede the monetary system."

"Because of climate change, our business has been greatly affected by sudden changes in weather that was too hot or too cold or wet. Sudden weather change affects our business schedule. Thus we lose clients, money and precious time in the preparation and execution of our business plans," said Arturo Garcia, CFO of HIFI California Expo, LLC in Los Angeles.

COLORADO

"I work with business leaders throughout Colorado to help them become more energy efficient. I encourage them to use what they need, not what they can," said Andrew Wildenberg, President of e3 Power in Denver. "This helps companies both save money and create jobs."

"Sustainable Power System is located in Boulder, Colorado, which experienced torrential rains (85% of its annual average rainfall over a 5-day period) and catastrophic flooding in September 2013. Several employees experienced flood damage in their homes and difficulty in getting to work," said Steve Drouilhet, Founder and President of Sustainable Power Systems, Inc. in Boulder, Colo. "Sustainable Power Systems manufactures advanced microgrid control systems and stands ready to help American businesses fight climate change by increasing the amount of renewable energy they can cost-effectively deploy at their factories and offices."

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

"My company, Lightsense Technology, provides the most advanced infrared sensing technologies, which help conserve energy and control pollution," said Gordon Davidson, Chairman of Lightsense Technology in Washington, DC. "New policy would directly benefits the growth of start-up companies like ours, which create jobs and encourage sustainable practices."

FLORIDA

"Severe weather has always been a burden for homeowners and climate change will only make it worse," said Eric Rollings, realtor at uOwn Real Estate in Orlando, Fla. "Here's the bottom line: If you own or rent property, you have something at stake. It's time for us to all come together and start dealing with the climate that has changed."

"My company handles the stakeholder and communications planning of private infrastructure projects, mainly within the Caribbean. Our projects are very affected by climate change. We go by rainy and dry seasons in the Atlantic Ocean nation states. Nowadays it is almost probable to have intense flooding during dry season!" said Astrid F. Kowlessar, Director at Vezta Triumph Ltd. in Miami, Fla. "Abnormally unpredictable weather leads to costly project delays and cancellations, which are detrimental for project management businesses."

"As architects and urban planners, we deal with economic and environmental sustainability at a variety of scales and locations," said Craig Huffman, Design Principal at Baque Huffman STUDIO Architecture & Urban Design in Tallahassee, Fla. "Sensible ideas that reward compact development patterns, coupled with preservation of natural ecosystems and agricultural land, need vocal support from the President and Congress. They need to support the Pope's courageous stand on climate change and his call to respect and preserve our planet."

GEORGIA

"Warming seas and ocean acidification left the Florida Keys reef a wasteland. Then there were two successive years of eight mandatory hurricane evacuations. Finally, I gave up. My dive-based tourism business no longer viable, I moved back to the mainland to try and start over, but the impacts are everywhere," said Vicki Weeks, Former President and CEO of Watersport People, Inc. in Savannah, Ga.

ILLINOIS

"Climate change and the economy are not separate issues," said Holly Agra, president of Chicago's First Lady Cruises, a tour boat company in Chicago, Ill. "We need to move forward with best practices and innovation that will allow us to stay as safe as possible from severe weather, be healthy and grow our business."

"Smart investments in sustainability measures can pay substantial dividends over time. Likewise, business leaders looking for cost savings may implement efficiency measures that help the environment too," Mark Achler, Managing Director of Math Venture Partners, a financial firm in Chicago, said. "If state officials, utility companies and local business leaders work together to come up with a smart, innovative plan, we can reduce our long-term energy costs, improve energy reliability, and become more competitive than those who stick to business as usual."

"Some manufacturers complain about environmentalists, saying they get in the way of doing business," said Ben Johnson, president of Redhorse Performance, a maker of high-performance auto parts in Hickory Hills, Ill. "But if we don't do more to protect our environment, severe weather could put a lot of manufacturing plants out of business altogether."

"Again this year, the weather has affected us in an adverse manner which in-turn has hurt my company," said "said Gail Glasser, President of Century Fasteners & Machine Co., Inc. in Niles, Ill. "This year alone we had to be closed for three days due to the fact that there was so much snow my employees could not drive in. We also couldn't even get to the door there was so much snow. Having to keep my doors closed for three days hurts our bottom line."

"My business activity can be affected by the abnormal severe weather both in winter and summer that scientists relate to climate change," said Andrew Neal, President of STRYTECH Adhesive Systems in Northbrook, Ill. "Delays in my shipments to customers and customers being impacted by interrupted production are both results of these weather abnormalities."

MARYLAND

"Climate change impacts the ability to do business domestically and globally because it changes the spending patterns throughout world markets where we sell our IT Program Management goods and services," said Joe Reddix, President and CEO of The Reddix Group in Hanover, Md. "Potential buyers of goods and services are impacted in the sale and transport of their respective products because of having to spend time, money and energy combating and planning for the effects of climate change (i.e., floods, tornadoes, extreme heat and cold), which alters budgets away from normal procurements of goods and services and impacts the overall business planning processes and the ability to grow their businesses."

MASSACHUSETTS

"Now, even Pope Francis acknowledges that climate change is threatening the earth's future. It's really quite simple: If we destroy the planet there will be no business left for anyone to worry about," said Greg Sandler, President of ThinkGlobal Inc. in Northampton, Mass.

MICHIGAN

"We provide intercultural training to international executives, and extreme weather keeps expats from traveling and delays moving as snow and sleet also affect transportation, so my income is seriously affected when the weather is excessively cold," said Monica Stevens, CEO of MES Consulting Services LLC in Farmington, Mich.

MINNESOTA

"Harsh weather slows down our real estate development business. It puts everyone, for each angle of the home, behind when we are known to build a well-built home in a timely manner," said Christina Rosin, Owner of Enzinger Properties in Rogers, Minn.

MISSOURI

"Flooding is a significant problem here in the Midwest. Just last year, flooding caused by heavy rain and snowmelt cost residents a total of $2.86 billion in damages," said Hilary Noonan, Principal at Syntax Land Design, LLC in Kansas City, Mo. "We must prepare to withstand environmental challenges for decades to come. I believe this means working smarter – not harder."

"Every day I help builders develop energy efficient, sustainable homes and buildings using low-impact, economically and ecologically conscious development practices," said Matt Belcher, Director of the High Performance Buildings Research Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia. "Making our buildings more energy efficient will help improve both our climate and our economy."

"There have been multiple disruptions to my business from severe, unprecedented weather patterns. These have negatively impacted overall earning processes and reduced net profits by upwards of 50 percent," said Louise Noeth, Principal at LandSpeed Productions in Saint Louis, Mo. "However, despite this woeful situation I believe that doing the right thing by the planet we all inhabit may not always be the most profitable strategy. Continued denial of humankind's participation in global warming is like saying drinking mass quantities of alcohol won't make you drunk."

NEW JERSEY

"Climate change has adversely affected our annual outdoor fund raiser 'Shop 4 A Cause Macy's' because it has been raining a lot and it has been very chilly and windy, and then at other times there has been very high heat with high humidity," said Barbara Alsieux, Founder and President of Artist Barbara Alsieux Fine Art Studio in West Orange, N.J.

NEW YORK

"XO Group serves millions of couples navigating life's biggest moments, from marriage to parenting. The future health, stability, and happiness of these families is jeopardized by government inaction on climate change," said Mike Steib, CEO of XO Group, Inc. in New York, N.Y. "I join with thousands of other business leaders in calling for leadership and solutions to this critical issue."

"We all need to take immediate action on climate change. The ramifications of climate change are especially significant in the Manhattan business community and we look forward to mobilizing our member businesses to take action," said Ken Biberaj, the Chairman of the Board of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

"Climate change is rapidly affecting plant and animal species - yet their solutions for living are a vast catalog of individual biomimetic designs and ecosystem health," said Alex Wolf, Founder and CEO of na2ure in New York, N.Y. "Our company connects kids with how Mother Nature builds, and it's vital they understand, interact with, and love nature's varied species and ingenuity since our kids are the future of our ability to live in harmony with our earth."

"Some countries where river runoff is likely to increase because of climate change have the ability to adapt quickly by adding hydrokinetic turbines downstream of existing dams to put the extra flow to good use," said Trey Taylor, Co-founder and Director of Verdant Power, Inc. in New York, NY. "This opportunity will increase the sales of my company's hydrokinetic turbine systems and the number of manufacturing and service jobs in the United States."

"As U.S. immigration attorneys, we have seen an increase in the number of displaced immigrants fleeing economic chaos wreaked by climate change," said Elise Burton, a Partner at O'Reilly Burton McCabe LLP in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Many are in need of legal assistance and yet the majority of these people are indigent. We take as many pro bono cases as we can but the huge number of people in need remains and appears to be growing."

"Climate change is one of the reasons customers turn to us, since we design and install solar energy systems on Long Island," said Dan Sabia, President and CEO of Built Well Solar in Wantagh, N.Y. "We are doing our part to reduce the carbon footprint here, and wish world leaders would do more legislatively to make solar energy more popular, and support the extension of the federal investment tax credit to keep solar energy affordable for homeowners and business owners."

"Climate change causes extreme winters and summers. Recent weather destroyed an asphalt roof to extreme icing in the winter and destroyed sidewalks due to extreme cold ice and snow," said Selcuk Ipek, in Guest Services at Millenium Hotels and Resorts, in New York, N.Y.

"The record cold winter that we had last year was actually good for our business. The severe cold temperatures tested the limits of the smart grid technologies our competitors utilize and put us in a technology leadership role for our optic sensors," said Michael Jagielski, Chief Operating Officer at Micatu Inc. in Painted Post, N.Y.

OHIO

"Severe weather causes energy blackouts that disrupt our clients' business. Our revenue is dependent on energy savings and if energy isn't flowing, our clients cannot conduct business and neither of us can generate revenue," said Ron DeLyons, Managing Principal at Creekwood Energy Partners in Cincinnati, Ohio. "Additionally, on extremely hot days many of our clients shut down operations to avoid peak demand charges, but this is also disruptive to productivity, worker safety and revenue."

"The 2014 Polar Vortex froze the pipes in one of our investment properties. This caused months of repair and legal expenses, as well as loss of income," said John Cavanaugh, President and CEO of Cross Cultural Communications, LLC in Columbus, Ohio.

"AGROWN has found U.S. agriculture investment firms have recognized the effects of the California drought on our food supply. Several are seeking investments in South America; Panama is building an infrastructure of greenhouses to take market share. We are co-sponsoring an investor's conference in October for commercial agriculture investors to keep investment and jobs in the U.S. and to support U.S. food security," said Steve Jones, Board Member & Acting COO of AGROWN, LLC in Wooster, Ohio.

OKLAHOMA

"Global climate change and the increasing incidences of severe weather events have resulted in human tragedy and economic disruption on a massive scale. All businesses must make sustainability a cornerstone of strategic planning," said Tom Pipal, Treasurer of the Business Industrial Development Corporation in Tulsa, Okla. "BIDC, as an economic development organization, provides incentives to companies that create jobs and utilize sustainable technologies to reduce their carbon footprint."

PENNSYLVANIA

"As the founder and CEO of a firm that helps other businesses and individuals reduce their carbon emissions while reducing costs, I see firsthand every day that adopting energy efficient strategies can be a win-win," said Greg Puschnigg of BOSS Controls, LLC in Pittsburgh, Pa.

"At its core, My MilkCrate serves to promote and help grow businesses that are doing it right, those that are committed to running their business sustainably with the triple bottom line in mind. It's imperative that we have business owners like these at the discussion table," said Morgan Berman, CEO and Co-founder of My MilkCrate, a free app to help people live sustainably. "By facilitating the connection between these businesses, and government initiatives that support sustainable development, we can shift the needle."

"As a software technology company, I never imagined that we would be affected by the weather," said Det Ansinn, Founder and President of BrickSimple, LLC, a technology startup in Doylestown, Pa. "Yet, with disruption after disruption, it is clear that climate change is something that no business can ignore. For my small firm alone, it has literally cost us tens of thousands of dollars in productivity."

"Philadelphia has tremendous potential to be a clean energy hub," said Steve Masters, Esquire, President of JustLaws PLLC and vice-chair of the board of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. "We know that devoting economic development resources to clean energy efforts will help create good-paying, sustainable jobs in our region."

"Severe weather has a direct effect on my business because it interrupts business activity. Severe winter and spring storms have led to a slowdown of businesses purchasing equipment, and when they do purchase, the delivery time is longer," said Carl Villella, President of Acceptance Leasing and Financing Service, Inc. in Moon Township, Pa.

"Times have changed; when the rain comes it is extreme. When our snow fall is all but gone each winter, it is changing. Farming and growing was an unknown before; but, within the last 15 years all is more difficult," said Wayne Ott, Partner at Janvier Ott, Inc. in Orbisonia, Pa.

"Climate change is no longer a matter of question, our impact on the planet is being seen in very real and measurable ways - studies show that the damages incurred annually in the U.S. range from $60-140 billion of economic impact. These costs are disproportionately borne by businesses and taxpayers when emergency and recovery expenditures only continue to increase as extreme weather patterns worsen," Colin Huwyler, CEO of Optimus Technologies in Pittsburgh, Pa. "The largest contributors of carbon pollution have not and will not self-regulate, the time is now for swift and bold action to address the most pressing issue of our time."

SOUTH CAROLINA

"Rising global temperatures, coupled with increased emissions of greenhouse gases, have spurred cities around the world to seek new technologies and infrastructure that will enhance their resilience and ability to adapt to changing climates," said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra, Inc. in Greenville, S.C. "Advanced transit, and in particular zero-emissions electric mobility within the urban core, will play a significant role in near- and long-term emission reductions and sustainable solutions. Proterra is proud to lead U.S. innovative efforts in the EV public transportation space."

SOUTH DAKOTA

"Being a farmer in the Midwest, I believe climate change has led to weather extremes. It is difficult to farm when you get massive heavy rains in a short period of time followed by months of little or no precipitation," said David Kolsrud, a farmer at The Funding Farm in Brandon, S.D. "Sadly as a farmer I have become heavily dependent on Federal Crop Insurance. This is not sustainable. We all need to work on solutions."

TENNESSEE

"Underestimating the potential risks of climate change presents a significant challenge to businesses, individuals, and our economy," said Michael Walton, Executive Director of Green|Spaces, a nonprofit in Chattanooga, Tenn. "Chattanooga has two great opportunities in the face of climate change. We have a multi-trillion dollar market that we have only started to tap, and while we capitalize on this new market, we can invest it in a city that protects and promotes health, while minimizing negative impacts on the environment."

"Becoming more sustainable can both help the environment and help the bottom line. We've also seen that it's great for staff moral and has helped attract customers," said Sally Moses, Owner and Manager of 212 Market Restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn. "If we don't come together and do this now, in the long run we'll need to pay more to keep the restaurant cool while the ovens are hot."

TEXAS

"Increasing climate resilience is the same as increasing economic resilience. As a business, if we can bounce back or bounce forward from extreme weather quickly we can better serve our clients," said Sascha Petersen, Chief Operations Officer of Adaptation International in Austin, Tx.

"Since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast, it seems as if Houston has been relentlessly pummeled by climatic events, including hurricanes Ike in 2008; the 2009 floods, the 2011 drought, the 2015 floods again. These events are not only hugely disruptive of day-to-day business, but they also create problems like damaging infrastructure. Every time we become more prepared and better at these events, but every time they are disruptive. And they are increasingly recurring too," said Jose Carlos Gonzalez, Principal at Gonzalez & Asociados in Houston, Tx. "It is unfashionable in Texas to speak of CO2 causing climate change, but with the dire predictions it seems unforgivable not to speak forcefully about it. Texas has the most at stake on climate change due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Texas should lead the way in carrying society responsibly into the Anthropocene."

"As a medical supplier, our company knows that many humans are adversely being hurt and or killed due to the violent nature of climate change. It would not be if we listened to the cries from God to preserve and protect Mother Earth," said Jane Gonzalez, President and CEO of Medwheels Inc. in San Antonio, Tx.

UTAH

"We used to have more than 100 million cattle in America, and we now have a little more than 80 million. Herds haven't been this small since the early 1950s," said Jake Braken, Manager at Green River Companies Alfalfa Farm in Green River, Utah. "As we debate how to respond to this new, severe weather, I hope the rest of America will understand just how vulnerable our farms can be."

VIRGINIA

"The Clean Power Plan recognizes that solar power and energy storage are changing the century-old way we make electricity. No longer does power only come from large power plants over long wires," said William Gathright, the CEO of Tumalow Energy Storage in McLean, Va. "Going forward, government and businesses need to collaborate on regulations that address the way America's electrical grid will work into the future."

"As an independent contractor, I travel quite a bit year round. The conditions of the roads in the areas I travel (primarily rural and some urban) can be very problematic given weather and road conditions. Road repair and upkeep seem to be lacking in most of the situations I have observed first hand," said Pamela Nowell, a self-employed contractor from Lynchburg, Va.

WEST VIRGINIA

"As our ocean waters become warmer, our polar ice caps continue to recede. As drought expands in California, it has become apparent that we need to address our environmental footprint," said Nancy Landreville, CEO of NML Computer Consulting LLC in Falling Waters, W.Va. "My business has begun to research alternative energy sources such as geothermal energy, reducing hardware requirements with cloud systems, and addressing increased recycling for sustainability."

WISCONSIN

"Major flooding in 2010 drove businesses from our neighborhood and left low-income African-American individuals waiting months for FEMA assistance, with numerous homes condemned and residents living in shelters while waiting to find out the status of their homes," said Howard Snyder, Executive Director of the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisc. "Businesses have cited the need for flooding issues to be addressed before they will consider locating in our neighborhood, where jobs are badly needed to combat the high unemployment rate."

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To date, the organization has also brought more than 3,000 business leaders to the White House to brief the President's economic advisors. Business leaders who have participated in these briefings have seen their suggestions implemented in the Affordable Care Act, the Jobs Act, three trade agreements, and every one of the President's budgets. Many have also shared their recommendations with their representatives in Congress and through op-eds and interviews with local media. Ninety-eight out of 100 business leaders who have participated in a Business Forward briefing would be interested in participating in another one. For more information please visit www.BusinessFWD.org.

CONTACT: Rachel Harvey RHarvey@BusinessFWD.org 202-470-1318

Source: Business Forward