Coloradans forced to pay twice for gasoline

In Colorado, Clean Water Action and Colorado Conservation Voters held events on Tax Day to hold Congressmen Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton accountable for the special tax breaks and subsidies they are handing out to Big Oil. While at local gas stations, citizens asked why they were being forced to “shoulder more than $157 million of the burden for oil and gas tax breaks” especially when gas prices are at an all time high.

Fat Cat takes photos with drivers calling an end to taxpayer handouts to Big Oil. Source: Clean Water Action

“It’s high time Coloradans stop paying twice for gas – once at the pump and again on Tax Day,” said Gary Wockner, director of Clean Water Action. “We should end the billions in taxpayer handouts to Big Oil fat cats, but Reps. Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton have voted a half dozen times to protect Big Oil tax breaks.”

According to Clean Water Action:

Coloradans are paying just over $3.85 a gallon for gas, $0.29 more per gallon than one year ago. While Colorado families struggle to adjust to higher energy prices, the top five oil and gas companies alone reported $137 billion in profits this past year.

Oil and gas interests have given more than $6.8 million in campaign contributions to members of Congress so far this election cycle, 88 percent of which went to Republican members.

Rep. Mike Coffman has taken $164,800 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, and Rep. Scott Tipton has taken $104,600.

“Big Oil is buying-off our members of Congress, including Reps. Coffman and Tipton, to keep protect billions in special tax breaks,” said Wockner. “No wonder the only solution to gas prices these politicians offer up are gimmicks like ‘drill, baby, drill.”

“Instead of taking money from Big Oil, the Congressmen should vote to end Big Oil tax breaks and reinvest those funds in long term solutions such as transportation improvements, the next generation of renewable fuels, and high tech vehicles,” concluded Wockner.

Group calls on Rep. Tipton to return contributions from SG Interests

Public Campaign, a non-profit, non-partisan organization aimed at reducing the role of big special interest money in American politics, called on Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) “to return thousands of dollars in contributions he received from the executives of SG Interests.” According to the Denver Post, the company has been ordered to pay $275,000 following a federal antitrust lawsuit that alleged [Gunnison Energy Corp. and SG Interests] worked together in bidding on public land leases in Gunnison County.”

In a release, Public Campaign went on to say:

“The people of Colorado need to know that their elected officials are working for them and not big donors trying to defraud taxpayers,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director at Public Campaign. “Scott Tipton should immediately return contributions from the company or donate them to charity.”

The agreement to pay the fine, according to a report by the Denver Post, is part of the first federal challenge to an anti-competitive bidding agreement for mineral rights after SG Interests and Gunnison Energy entered into an agreement that only SG would bid at gas field auctions but would split the acreage with Gunnison.

Tipton has close ties to SG Interests and has faced criticism for taking contributions from company donors while simultaneously working to address a local dispute between landowners and the company. He received $8,100 from donors at SG Interests based in Houston in 2011 and has taken $15,300 from company donors since 2009, according to Public Campaign analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

The company wants to increase drilling operations on public lands in Tipton’s district and the congressman has been “trying to mediate ” a solution between both SG Interests and the ranchers, local elected officials and citizens opposed to expanded drilling in the area.

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