at the University of New Hampshire’s Manchester campus here to express their support for such legislation for its potential to create jobs and protect American competitiveness.
The event was the fourth leg of the Race for American Jobs & Clean Energy Leadership, a national “race” to drive home the economic benefits of strong national climate and energy policies.
“Stonyfield rejects the notion that climate and energy legislation is going to be costly,” said Gary Hirshberg, CEO of the Londonderry-based Stonyfield Farm. “Based on our experience, climate action offers economic opportunity rather than economic penalty. We either get into this now, with the right policies, or we’ll find ourselves sitting on the sidelines losing our economic competitiveness.”
Hirshberg said that his company has saved $7.4 million dollars through its energy and climate initiatives, which enabled it to support 40 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce in New Hampshire, and that it is the fastest growing yogurt company in the country.
“The U.S. is shockingly behind on clean energy, but the moment we figure out as a nation how to unleash innovation and knock down the barriers to a clean energy future, we can make things happen overnight,” said Steve Walker, CEO and president of Jaffrey-based, New England Wood Pellet LLC. “When it comes to energy sources, we have a choice: to join the new and growing or stick with the old and dying.”
New Hampshire has much to gain if strong climate and energy policies are passed: a recent study by the University of California concluded that up to 7,000 new jobs would be created in the state, with the average household income increasing by up to $726 per year by 2020. On the national level, up to 1.9 million jobs would be created and the U.S. GDP would be boosted by up to $111 billion dollars, relative to no such legislation being passed.
“Business people are starting to see green practices as an economic issue that saves money and creates jobs,” said Michael Skelton, Vice President, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
Clay Mitchell, Principal of SDES Group, spoke about the rampant energy waste he has come across in his work with municipalities, and the financial and energy savings those municipalities could achieve with the right incentives. “Schools and municipalities should be spending money on education, not wasting it on oil that’s coming from foreign countries,” he said.
The N.H. business leaders showed their support for job creation and energy innovation by adding their signatures to a banner, which has been passed along at each of four stops on the Race for American Jobs campaign. The banner, now covered with more than 100 signatures, will be taken tomorrow to Washington, D.C. for the culmination of the Race, and will be presented directly to members of Congress and the Obama Administration by business executives from Stonyfield Farm and other companies from across the country.
The Race for American Jobs has traveled East across the country, kicking off at Nike Headquarters in Oregon on February 16 and continuing to Colorado, Ohio and New Hampshire collecting endorsements and bringing together forward-thinking business executives to support strong energy and climate legislation.