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Billionaire Oil Driller Serving as Romney Energy Advisor

4:09 PM PDT on August 14, 2012

When it comes to transportation and energy policy, it's tough to tell exactly where Mitt Romney stands, but there's a lot to be learned by watching whom he's keeping close.

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Yesterday we covered how his VP choice, Paul Ryan, looks to be a policy disaster for sustainable transportation. Ryan indicated in his attention-grabbing but largely symbolic 2012 budget proposal that he would eliminate "dozens of separate highway programs," presumably TIGER, high-speed rail, safe routes to school and other "highway programs" that build other things besides highways.

Here's another interesting figure in the Romney camp. The Washington Post reports that one of his big financial backers is the CEO of Continental Resources, an oil exploration company based in Oklahoma best known for its leading role in extracting fossil fuels from the Bakken formation, which stretches across parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan.

Harold Hamm, the world's 76th richest man, has some interesting thoughts, one might say, about energy policy. He makes no secret that he thinks more environmentally intensive oil drilling practices should be actively promoted and subsidized by the government. And he's not a fan of the Obama administration's policies to support renewable energy sources and reduced reliance on fossil fuels. On a website Hamm calls "CEO Insights," the 66-year-old multi-billionaire has this to say:

Since President Obama’s election three and a half years ago, he and his administration have done everything in their power to stop fossil fuel usage, including a carbon tax, increased federal regulations, delays in federal permitting, infrastructure permitting denials for the Keystone XL Pipeline, capital starvation for drilling by the elimination of intangible drilling costs, and depletion allowance. All of these actions are designed to result in higher costs at the pump for the consumer. At the same time, there are billions of dollars in subsidies being given to solar, wind and all other alternative sources of energy.

In short, the President is opposed to drilling for oil and gas to supply America’s needs and future. I have been in this business for over 45 years and I can assure you there just isn’t any way to coax oil and gas from the rocks they are in to bring them to the surface for consumption without drilling a well! The President is faced with a situation today which even he doesn’t have the power to stop. I will just call it the modern-day American Energy Renaissance.

He goes on to explain how fracking and horizontal drilling technology could be used to drastically expand domestic fossil fuel production.

To support his vision, Hamm has donated almost $1 million to a political action campaign that is working for Romney's election. He has also been given a special role in the Romney campaign, the WaPo reports:

While super PACs are supposed to be independent, the former cotton picker has also become a member of Romney’s energy advisory team, feeding the candidate optimistic assessments about U.S. oil production. Hamm is trying to take the lessons of the Oklahoma and North Dakota oil patches and apply them in Washington for the nation’s benefit — and his own.

Hat tip to Grist, which has a stellar deconstruction of how the WaPo covered Romney's Hamm connection.

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