Published On: Fri, Feb 28th, 2014

WV business owners hurting from chemical disaster

In response to the January contamination of the Elk River in West Virginia, the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and business leaders across the country have joined with West Virginia businesses’ demand for better state regulations for chemicals and chemical storage facilities. A petition with over 100 West Virginia business owner signatures was delivered to the legislature on Feb. 17 in anticipation of further action on “Water Resources and Protection Act” (SB 373), a state bill to address the problem. According to the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University, in the Charleston area, businesses lost approximately $61 million within the first week after the spill. ASBC renewed its call for reforming federal regulations of chemicals to provide adequate protection from hazardous chemicals and promote innovation and creation of safer chemicals and products.

“West Virginia is only the latest chemical disaster that has harmed business communities and citizens,” said David Levine, CEO and founder of ASBC. “Which of the nation’s 13,000 poorly regulated chemical processing and storage facilities with unregulated hazardous chemicals will be next? Now is the time to seriously regulate hazardous chemicals and for government and business to work together to transition to safer chemicals for the good of our economy and communities.”

Nancy Ward, owner of Cornucopia in Charleston said, “In 27 years, we have never seen the kind of decline in our business as we have seen in the last month. People here have lost confidence in their government’s ability and desire to protect them and the environment from toxic chemicals. The disturbing thing is that many of our lawmakers are listening more closely to the industries being regulated than they are to the citizens and small businesses being harmed.”

Jeni Pettigrew Burns, owner of Ms. Groovy’s Catering in Charleston said, “The negligence of our industrial neighbors cost our city tens of millions of dollars, much of that in small business revenue. Communities look to government to protect the best interest of its citizens through crafting and enforcing solid legislation that will hold businesses accountable when they choose to do the wrong thing. It is my hope that as a result of this chemical spill, our local, state and federal government will begin to use health and safety as a litmus test when crafting stronger legislation in regards to chemical safety.”

“Crises like the West Virginia chemical spill remind us that we’re all downstream and vulnerable to hazardous chemicals due to our country’s outdated chemical policy (TSCA),” said John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation, a founding member of the Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition. “It’s time to protect future generations and reform regulations on toxic chemicals now.”

Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and co-chair American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund said, “Good regulations protect good businesses from the abuses of bad businesses. From toxic chemicals to Wall Street, it is wrong for some big businesses to maximize profits by shifting their liabilities to other businesses and the public. When those businesses complain about regulations, they do it for their own interests not ours.”

The American Sustainable Business Council and its member organizations represent more than 200,000 businesses nationwide, and more than 325,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers and investors. The council includes chambers of commerce, trade associations and groups representing small business, investors, micro-enterprise, social enterprise, green and sustainable business, local living economy and women and minority business leaders. ASBC informs and engages policy makers and the public about the need and opportunities for building a vibrant and sustainable economy. For more information, go to www.asbcouncil.org.