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US Companies Slowly Preparing for Environmental Laws


A report released Tuesday shows some U.S. companies have begun preparations for what many business experts see as inevitable, stricter laws to protect the environment against fossil fuel emissions.

A report released Tuesday by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) detailed how 100 top companies are approaching environmental issues.

CERES President Mindy Lubber says many U.S. companies consider climate change an issue that can no longer be ignored. She applauded some leading U.S. companies for making progress in developing climate-friendly technologies. But she says the progress is not universal.

"Dozens of U.S. business in the electric power, oil and gas, air transportation and food service sectors are still largely dismissing this issue with business as usual strategies that may be putting their companies and investors at risk," she said.

Still, the CERES report showed some progress. A similar report in 2003 indicated few U.S. businesses were addressing environmental issues.

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator and corporate executive Bill Reilly says his company, DuPont, has set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while using more energy from renewable resources. He says his company's efforts show that being environmentally responsible does not have to hurt investors.

"This is really part of a commitment to the company. It has been sustained commitment, and it is making money for us," he noted.

Lubber said federal laws regulating businesses and how they affect the environment often face stiff resistance. She says many people opposed the Clean Air Act of 1990, which she calls a highly successful piece of legislation.

"It brought emissions down, it did not hurt business and industry," she said. "Once they knew the rules of the game, they acted. They acted successfully, they took advantage of the statutes, and they made it work, not only as a business, but for our environment."

She says the CERES report should spur other companies to take action to protect the environment, and even prompt government debate on environmental legislation.

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