On Thursday, oil baron Harold Hamm will testify to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the unrealistic promise that the U.S. can drill its way to energy independence. As chief architect of Romney’s energy plan, Hamm will echo its pro-oil tenets.
Hamm is CEO of Continental Resources, the company with the largest holdings in the Bakken oil and gas boom and his policy positions are, of course, firmly for maximizing drilling.
As lawmakers discuss the prudence of the GOP’s “Drill Baby Drill” energy plan, here are three essential questions that Hamm should answer at Thursday’s hearing:
How does the Romney/Ryan energy plan apply to national parks, and do you support the idea of throwing out federal safeguards for drilling in national parks that belong to all Americans?
The Romney energy plan proposes turning energy development on public lands over to the states, but it includes no details about which public lands would be included and how such a policy would work. In fact a recent trade organization, the International Association of Drilling Contractors, said that working under various state regulations could cause operators to “tear their hair out” and that it was “a little bit of populist raw meat.” The Center for American Progress just released a map of 30 national park units with non-federal mineral rights that could face future drilling, including the Flight 93 National Memorial, Everglades National Park, and Grand Teton National Park.
In his hearing testimony, Hamm supports opening federal lands and offshore areas for drilling, but claims it “would impact my company very little” because “we mainly work on private lands.” But Hamm holds a number of permits to drill on public lands, including recent permits for Montana and North Dakota. Romney’s plan would likely boost Hamm’s profits, but potentially at the risk of Americans’ national parks.
How does clean energy and fuel efficiency fit into a plan for energy independence, since a realistic plan must include lower oil consumption?
There are two parts of the equation to energy independence — energy production and consumption. But oil executives and some Republicans ignore initiatives that lower foreign oil consumption, like leaps in the production of clean energy and the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency standards.
Interestingly, Brad Plumer of the Wonk Blog points out that Romney’s plan relies on a CitiGroup report that cites fuel economy standards “as a major reason why America is now lurching toward energy independence.” However, Romney wants to roll back these initiatives, even though they are the only true solution for protecting consumers from oil price shocks, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Why do you call oil safety regulations unnecessary and burdensome when your company is guilty of drilling violations?
Hamm’s company Continental Resources has been fined for a number of violations in 2011: In several incidents, it’s been fined for improperly dumping oil and toxics into the air, soil and water. And even worse, neither Romney or Hamm show an interest in accounting for the risks to our climate posed by unchecked fossil fuel production.
Hamm is a critic of the Obama administration’s energy policy, calling it “one of scarcity” — even though the oil industry has reached the highest level of production in eight years.
Hamm is not only Romney’s policy adviser, but also a $1.2 million donor to Republicans and Romney’s super PAC. He has also been vocal about tax credits for oil, which Romney would protect by offering billions more in tax breaks for the top five oil corporations.