Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Oklahoma City’s Continental Resources Inc., is testifying this morning before the U.S. Senate Finance committee in Washington, D.C. The hearing is about energy tax policy. Chris Casteel in our Washington bureau is covering the hearing and will have a story later. (Update: Here’s Casteel’s story.)
Hamm also serves as chairman of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s energy policy committee. Hamm has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s energy policies, saying they are favoring renewable, green energy projects to the detriment of oil and natural gas producers. Obama has backed the elimination of several tax credits long enjoyed by oil and gas producers.
Also testifying at the hearing is former Oklahoma Sen. Don Nickles, who is now a lobbyist for several energy companies, including ExxonMobil Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Nickles is a board member at embattled Chesapeake Energy Corp., which anticipates several changes in its board makeup by June 22.
Harold Hamm, the founder, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources Inc., has donated almost $1 million to a super PAC that supports presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the Associated Press reports.
Hamm, who was named the chairman of Romney’s advisory group on energy policy in March, gave $985,000 to the pro-Romney Restore our Future PAC on April 3, according to records filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.
Hamm hosted a fundraiser for Romney earlier this month in Oklahoma City.
The Associated Press interviewed a campaign finance expert who called into the question Hamm’s role in the Romney campaign and the donation to a pro-Romney super PAC. Under campaign finance law, super PACs are not supposed to coordinate with campaigns.
Hamm, whose company did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press, is among a group of energy tycoons who have made lucrative donations to Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting Romney. Unlike the others, Hamm has matched his contributions with his role personally advising Romney on energy policy — blurring the line between the campaign and the super PACs that support them but are legally barred from coordinating with candidates.
However, another expert said the donation is perfectly legal:
Such contributions are legal, said veteran elections and ethics lawyer Jan W. Baran.
“It may be an appearance problem, but it’s not a legal problem,” Baran said.
Romney’s campaign said Hamm’s contributions to the super PAC supporting Romney were unrelated to his policy advice.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is making a couple of stops today in Oklahoma. He’s scheduled to appear with Gov. Mary Fallin at the state Republican Party headquarters this afternoon before heading to a fundraiser tonight at the $3 million, 12,500 square-foot Nichols Hills home of Harold Hamm. Donors to the private fundraiser will contribute a minimum of $1,000 to Romney’s campaign.
Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources Inc., is the chairman of the Romney campaign’s Energy Policy Advisory Group. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Hamms have contributed more than $209,000 to federal candidates, parties and political action committees in the 2012 campaign cycle. About 96 percent of those funds have gone to Republican candidates or causes.
Fallin stopped short of endorsing Romney on Tuesday, Capitol bureau reporter Michael McNutt reported: “I’m certainly very supportive of Gov. Romney and his candidacy,” Fallin said. “Our main goal is to replace President (Barack) Obama and to get someone who will get our economy back on track, and I feel Gov. Romney is the right person to do that.”
Hamm, who recently pledged his support to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, also criticized President Barack Obama’s energy policies.
Hamm struck back at Obama’s claim that supporters of the oil and gas industry are stuck in the past.
“The technology that’s out there today, what we’re doing with horizontal drilling, unlocking a virtual renaissance of new development of oil and gas in this country, I can’t believe the president would say anything like that. We’ve obviously brought drilling into another realm, whole new paradigm.”
Hamm also discussed his view of the potential of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana and his opposition to releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve because of high gasoline prices.
The interview, which lasted more than 20 minutes, is posted below in two parts. Inhofe joked that Maddow, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson are his “three favorite liberals.”
In a segment about energy independence, Inhofe mentioned Harold Hamm, CEO of Enid-based Continental Resources Inc., and the company’s oil production in the Bakken Field in North Dakota. In a discussion about energy industry contributions to lawmakers that included Oklahoma City’s Devon Energy Corp., Inhofe said, “they’re a great group, too.”
The second half of the interview wandered into social issues and Inhofe’s religious work in Africa before circling back to the global warming issue.
Oil producers have been desperate for pipeline capacity away from the storage hub at Cushing, but some apparently aren’t willing to pay for added capacity at market price.
The Financial Times reports industry groups in the U.S. and Canada are fighting to keep the Seaway pipeline between Cushing and refineries on the Gulf Coast from being unregulated. Enid-based Continental Resources Inc. also opposes the move, according to the article.
Operators Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise Products Partners, who are reversing the line to move oil away from Cushing, have sought permission to charge what the market will bear, according to the report.
The final decision rests with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for setting reasonable rates for petroleum products by pipeline.
Due to the lack of pipeline capacity out of new production centers like North Dakota, oil traders have been moving crude by train, barge and truck from the central US to the Gulf, according to the Financial Times report. Prices range from $5 a barrel by rail to as much as $24 a barrel by truck.
The first Devon Energy Corp. employees will move into the new tower at 333 W. Sheridan on Friday.
The company announced the plans Monday. The move marks the end of nearly three years of construction on the new Oklahoma City landmark.
Continental Resources Inc. employees are expected to begin moving next month into the former Devon building at 20 N. Broadway.
Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm has chosen his candidate in the upcoming presidential race.
Hamm will serve as chairman of Romney’s energy policy advisory group.
“I’m proud to support Mitt because I believe he is the only candidate with the private sector experience that we so desperately need in Washington. As a businessman myself, I am acutely aware of how the Obama administration has hurt the efforts of entrepreneurs and innovators and how outrageously he has attacked energy producers in particular. Mitt’s goal of cheap, plentiful energy for the American economy offers the American people a stark alternative to President Obama’s goal of driving prices higher.”
Romney called energy the lifeblood of the American economy.
“An affordable, reliable supply of energy is crucial to the bottom line of every business and family.”
He said the average family now spends more than twice as much on energy as income taxes each year, meaning the price increases under the Obama administration have had a comparable effect to doubling income taxes for the middle class.
“President Obama has achieved his goal of making energy more expensive in this country. We must abandon his course of restricting supply, increasing regulation and hoping for miraculous new technologies to save the day. Instead, we should take advantage of the enormous reserves of oil, coal and natural gas; the potential of nuclear; and the innovation of our private sector, which will power this nation for the century to come.”
Hamm will help the Romney campaign put together a broader energy team and develop a comprehensive national energy policy that creates jobs, protects the environment and guarantees a reliable, affordable supply of energy for the United States.