Continental Resources Inc. founder Harold Hamm, an unabashed supporter of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, on Tuesday warned a Denver audience in a provocative speech that Democrat Hillary Clinton, if elected in November, would doom the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.
Hamm, who was Mitt Romney's energy adviser in his failed presidential bid in 2012, was named to Trump's economic advisory panel earlier this month (see Shale Daily, Aug. 5). Trump last month surprisingly embraced local control over fracturing (fracking) in horizontal drilling during an exchange with a television reporter -- even though his energy agenda calls for more U.S. production. The hot button issue, which could be on the ballot in Colorado in November, is roundly opposed by the oil and gas industry (see Shale Daily, Aug. 23).
"I'm in favor of fracking, but I think that voters should have a big say in it," Trump said in July. "I mean, there's some areas, maybe, that don't want to have fracking, and I think if the voters are voting for it that's up to them."
In his luncheon keynote to the COGA audience, Hamm interpreted Trump's remarks and said the billionaire businessman would not support local control measures to restrict development.
"That kind of sounds Republican, local control," Hamm said of Trump's remarks. "Let me tell you, Donald Trump is pro-business. He is pro-energy, and he is not going to shut down fracking or drilling or anything else."
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the conference Tuesday, Hamm admitted that he had not discussed fracking with Trump but said the candidate “did not understand that concept at the time in my opinion. He does now.”
Hamm is one of several people with political ties speaking at the three-day Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, sponsored by the nonpartisan Colorado Oil & Gas Association. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, a geologist by trade and popular with the energy crowd, as well as former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, are sharing their views this week. Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R), as well as GOP Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, also are to address the crowd.
Hamm highlighted how the U.S. onshore has upended worldwide output.
"We've turned America around with energy production and changed the world forever with horizontal drilling," he said. "It's amazing what we've done and it really set a lot of people back." The environmental groups "just weren't ready to see this energy industry do good, be successful." Now, "it's a war" against the anti-fracking groups. "We're all in this war together. We're fighting it daily. It's an all-out attack on all of us."
Hamm, who founded Continental, said he remains "100% committed" to the Oklahoma City-based independent, although rumors have surfaced that he could be tapped to run the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) if Trump were elected.
"Regardless of what you've heard with DOE, don't get too carried away there," Hamm told the audience.
The language that has come to define onshore production, i.e., "fracking" has done a disservice to the work that the oil and gas industry performs, he said. Anti-drilling advocates "put the 'F-word' into our nomenclature," and operators should discourage anyone from using the word in reference to their businesses. More dire is the potential of a Clinton presidency, he warned.
"What's this industry going to be if she gets there? It's pretty sobering. You need to dig deep. You need to be a volunteer." Clinton-appointed Supreme Court justices could make rulings that could impact the energy industry, and not in a good way, he said. "Your kids are not going to be able to have a living."
Hamm pointed to Clinton's campaign statements that indicate she may work to end fossil fuel production on public lands. She also has stated that she would curb unconventional production through regulation, while not banning fracking, as her Democratic opponent in the primaries Bernie Sanders advocated.