The NAACP has begun circulating on Capitol Hill an Energy policy statement calling for deregulation of prices on new oil and gas and criticizing President Carter's national energy plan.
The statement by the nation's oldest civil rights organization was drafted by an 18-member task force that included a number of blacks who hold executive positions in the oil and gas industry.
It conforms to the spirit of a declaration by NAACP board chairman Margaret Bush Wilson last November for a partnership among "big government, the big minority and big oil . . ."
The statement criticizes Carter's energy plan for taking "a pessimistic attitude toward energy supplies for the future," and for emphasizing conservation in an attempt to cut energy use.
It also says a "major portion" of the money Carter wants to raise through new taxes on energy should be plowed back into the industry for expansion, one of the principal goals of the energy companies and their congressional allies last year, rather than rebated to taxpayers as Carter proposed.
The chairman of the task force that drafted the statement was James Stewart, a veteran of almost 20 years on the NACCP board of directors, and a retired assistant to the vice president of the Oklahoma Natural Gas Co.
Stewart said he tried to find people for the task force "who have a knowledge" of both the NAACP and the industry.
"It's a little confusing to people that we would be supporting the aims and objectives of much of industry, but we're supporting what's good for us in terms of jobs for black people," he said when reached by telephone at his home.
"It (the statement) wasn't pro-industry . . . It was pro-jobs and opportunities for black people for whom it's time to get a piece of the pie. And the only way we're going to get it is if we stimulate industrial growth and exploration and by bringing more energy into the United States . . ."
"We can't through conservation get any more jobs for blacks," Stewart said. ". . . The only way to increase jobs is to increase productivity and that's through industry."
The statement echoes Stewart's views. It cites unemployment of more than 50 per cent in some black age groups, and then notes:
"We cannot accept the notion that our people are best served by a policy based upon the inevitability of energy shortage and the need for government to allocate an ever-diminishing supply among competing interests." And it continues:
". . . We also believe that many of the prohibitions proposed [by Carter] with respect to the industrial use of oil and natural gas will force the closing of many job-producing industries inurban areas and cause a massive shift of industries away form areas where most black people live and work."
Stewart said NAACP chairman Wilson of St. Louis and executive director Benjamin Hooks also had considerable input on the statement.
Wilson issued her call for ". . . a pragmatic partnership among big government, the big minority, and big oil . . ." at an energy conference of the NAACP in Washington last Nov. 18 and 19.
Andrew Brimmer, a former member of the Federal reserve Board and now an economic consultant, said at the November conference that there was "no way to reduce consumption in the U.S. without simultaneously slowing production and economic growth." Stewart said Brimmer contributed to the organization's energy statement.
In his speech Brimmer said the greatest burden of slowing production would fall on blacks. He asserted that it would be in their interest for natural gas prices to rise.
The 400 or so delegates to the NAACP's energy conference, not all of them NAACP members and many of them blacks working in various industries, broke up into a series of task forces to discuss various aspects of the energy crisis.
Robert Bates was chairman of the tak force on supply, which looked at what ought to be done to assure an adequate supply of energy for minorities and the poor! Bates is also a Washington lobbyist for Mobil Oil.
Bates said his task force consisted of members foom Standard Oil of California, Atlantic-richfield, southern California Gas, Consolidated Edison of New York City, and the consulting firm of Arthur D. Little, as well as the federal Department of Energy.
The statement, he asserted, reflects the experience of his task force members in the energy industry.
"I was very much impressed with the fact that there were black people participating in the conference who have knowledge and experience because they worked for industry, Bates said.
Bates is also a member of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, headed by Clark Watson of Denver, Colo.
Several members of the AABE, including Watson, contributed suggestions for the statement. In a talk before a group of journalism students last August in Berkeley, Calif., Watson said the AABE believed, among other things, that blacks ought to have a bigger slice of the energy industry pie.
"The big thrust was to make sure there's enough oil to go around," Bates said, "with the feeling that if you put any restrictions [on supply], the first group that would suffer would be blacks and minorities . . ."