How do changing regulations affect the climate for businesses, especially those owned by black entrepreneurs? That was a major topic of conversation at the annual conference of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, held last week in New Orleans. The conference convened at the Port of New Orleans, a significant symbol of the interconnection between commerce and energy.
On Thursday, PACE Executive Director Lance Brown joined a panel that discussed regulatory conditions affecting the U.S. economy and business owners. Other panelists included Representative Garret Graves, who represents Louisiana’s 6th District, and Antonio Williams, Senior Director of Government and External Affairs at Comcast. The session was entitled “Understanding the Consequences of Regulatory Overreach of Energy and Telecom.” It was moderated by Bill Kovacs, Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
During his presentation, Brown discussed the climate being created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the way that climate has affected sectors of the economy, particularly the utility industry that serves businesses and industries.
“American consumers sometimes don’t realize that it’s not just the regulations implemented by EPA that affect electricity rates and the reliability of power. For the most part, the power industry is used to meeting environmental standards and incorporating new technology,” Brown explained to conference attendees. “It is the uncertainty that creates the biggest effect. You are now seeing utilities make significant decisions about future generation not based on actual regulations, but on the specter of new regulations. In that way, EPA is essentially controlling what the future of energy looks like.”
PACE wrote recently about the way that EPA rules are beginning to replace local planning when it comes to energy decisions. We passed along the comments of Travis Kavulla, President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), who has criticized EPA for its top-down approach to rule-making. Other state regulators and lawmakers have expressed similar concerns.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce has partnered with PACE before on energy issues that affect business owners. Brown spoke last year at the Chamber’s annual conference, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“The National Black Chamber of Commerce is not just an important voice for expressing the views of black-owned businesses, but it is also a platform to articulate a sensible vision of regulation for all businesses,” says Brown. “We are proud to support their efforts to encourage the growth and vitality of the American economy.”