Civil rights group spokesman starting Colorado energy group

Colleen Slevin
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” A spokesman for a national civil rights group said Tuesday he was organizing a Colorado group to oppose policies that could restrict energy supplies, saying the resulting higher prices especially hurt low-income people by raising heating bills.

Niger Innis, spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, said the new group, Colorado Consumers for Affordable Energy, would be led by Bishop Phillip H. Porter Jr. Innis said the debate between environmentalists and industry over regulations leaves out consumers.

“When the industry gets a cold because of taxes or regulation, my community gets a flu. That’s not easy to recover from,” Innis said at a news conference with two state lawmakers concerned about new regulations being drafted for the oil and gas industry in Colorado.

The news conference was organized with the help of Golden-based Americans for American Energy, which supports more domestic energy production, a day before the joint House and Senate agriculture committee was set to discuss the energy regulations. Industry representatives say their expertise and experience were ignored in drafting the new regulations, which aren’t expected to be released until later this month or April.

Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, said CORE has a strong history of supporting civil rights but in this case he said the group was wrongly trying to protect the oil and gas industry from a “modicum of regulation”.

“It’s a little sad to see them as a shill for the oil and gas industry at this moment,” Carroll said.

Innis acknowledged that CORE has received funding from Exxon but said it was because of its work to distribute sleeping nets in Africa to prevent the spread of malaria. He said he paid his own way to Colorado and Greg Schnacke, former executive vice president of a state oil and gas group and the head of Americans for American Energy, said the group hasn’t made a donation to the Colorado Consumers group. Tax laws don’t require the group to disclose its donors.

Former state representative Rob Fairbank, a political consultant, filed the incorporation papers for the group with the secretary of state’s office.

Rep. Wes McKinley and Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, said they were drafting a resolution asking for the industry to review the new rules to find out how much they could impact energy prices if they decrease production.