Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mitt Romney’s fundraiser on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City was not just another chance for wealthy donors to fill the candidate’s campaign coffers, but reveals the GOP presidential candidate’s special relationship with oil tycoon Harold Hamm, chairman of Romney’s Energy Policy Advisory Council and host of the quiet soirée. What Hamm and Romney share, aside from great wealth, is a powerful desire to complete the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Hamm is the chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, one of the nation’s largest independent energy companies and leading developer and owner of more than 600,000 acres in the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota. If the northern section of the pipeline were complete, it would connect to Hamm’s oil field, giving him a 1,700-mile conduit to the Gulf of Mexico. Hamm ranks 33rd on the Forbes’ wealth list and is worth around $12 billion. He estimates 24 billion barrels of crude at Bakken, mostly still underground, so Keystone XL — which would run down from Canada — would expedite his ascent up the billionaire ladder.

With sponsorships ranging up to $50,000 a head, the fundraiser drew roughly 200 attendees to hear Romney speak at Hamm’s home in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma. When asked about the fundraiser’s attendees prior to the event, Hamm didn’t mention names but told The Oklahoman he “knows a lot of oil folks” and “invited everybody” he knows. Hamm and his publicists did not return calls to The National Memo.

Romney says that building the northern section of the XL pipeline is a “no-brainer,” and has called the president an “enemy of energy development” for halting TransCanada’s proposed construction of the XL pipeline in the Nebraska Sandhills above the Ogallala Aquifer. After President Obama denied TransCanada a permit to construct the northern section of the Keystone XL, Hamm and a group of oil industry executives wrote an open letter to the president in an editorial in the The Oklahoman, criticizing his decision to deny the permit as a political maneuver.

“Approval of the entire Keystone XL pipeline should happen now — not after the election,” they wrote to the president. “…America’s greatest benefit will come when we can transport oil from our best energy partner, Canada, and oil-rich North Dakota and Montana.”

Despite Hamm’s homilies about liberating the US from foreign oil, crude from the Canadian tar sands is still foreign. Heather Taylor, director of the National Resource Defense Council’s Action Fund, told The National Memo that tycoons like Hamm want to build the XL pipeline to “raise the price” of US and Canadian crude. Canadian regulators disclosed the same thing in a 2010 report, saying the “purpose” of the pipeline is to disburse the surplus of oil in the Midwest and “create a higher price” for crude.  Bloomberg reported prices may rise as much as 20 cents a gallon in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain region if the XL project is completed.

Shortly after the president’s decision, Mitt Romney asked an audience in North Dakota how anyone could “say no” to a pipeline that will “create tens of thousands of jobs.”

When Romney refers to job creation, he might mean oil spill cleanup crews. In its first year of operation the Keystone I had 12 spills, one of which dumped 14,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota. Residents said a 60-foot geyser erupted from the pipeline and gushed for 30 minutes. TransCanada cleanup crews arrived five hours after the disaster.

Hamm insists TransCanda is using “every safety device known to man” to prevent a XL pipeline spill. Data from scientific research, and even TransCanada, prove otherwise.

TransCanada estimated the XL would have 11 significant spills during a 50-year lifecycle. In “Analysis of Worst-Case Spills by the Keystone XL Pipeline,” John Stansbury, associate professor at the University of Nebraska, says a more realistic estimate is 91 “significant” spills or two large spills a year — with a worst-case-scenario spill pouring 7.9 million gallons of crude oil in the Nebraska Sandhills above the Ogalla Aquifer, polluting a vital source of potable water and eliminating an integral water source for the nation’s agriculture industry.

“You can’t project the enormity of a spill above the aquifer,” Taylor said. “It’s dirty water, it’s dirty food. It’s dirty air. A spill is a big deal and devastating to the economy.”

Not only would the pipeline increase the price of North American oil, it would save Hamm millions per year on transportation. Trains ship North Dakota’s crude for $2 or more a barrel. Shipping it by pipeline would decrease the costs to $1.50 per barrel. Hamm produces more than 90,000 barrels of oil per day in the Bakken and is on track to double his 2011 output.

No wonder Romney says the president doesn’t see the value in the XL pipeline. In this election cycle so far, Romney has received more than $2.5 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil, and super PAC oilmen like the Koch brothers plan to pump more than $200 million into attacks on Obama. According to Think Progress, in the first quarter of 2012, the American Petroleum Institute, Crossroads GPS and the American Energy Alliance spent more than $16 million on ads blasting the president’s energy policies. Hamm and his wife Sue have contributed $9,600 to Romney since 2008. Opening their home to the “oil folks” represented a much bigger contribution by proxy.

On the campaign trail Romney’s vowed to build the XL pipeline “himself” if necessary. But Hamm’s fundraiser suggests why Romney chose an oil billionaire to chair his Energy Policy Advisory Council.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • rustacus21

    There are only 2 certainty’s w/this story: Global Climate Change is worsening & billionaires such as the above are determined to ‘string-up’ puppets such as Romney to wreak greater damage. By simply taking the time to find out what the absorbtion of larger levels of carbon dioxide than currently is taking place, Americans will understand that over-fishing & nitrogen runoff, aren’t the only reasons for expanding ocean dead zones all over the planet. We’re in trouble folks. & don’t believe it. Just remember U were ALL warned. Otherwise, this is an election year & as elections have consequences, lets create AFFIRMATIVE & POSITIVE consequence for a change, by voting Liberal/Progressive across the board. Even a billionaire will only be able to delay the impact of an environmental catastrophe just so long. By voting Liberal/Progressive this & every year til we correct errors of the past, we’re not only saving a planet, but civilizing the savage elite & unruly nobles who are so greedy, they’re blinded by it. This is what Democracy is for, after all…

  • Ed

    Wonder why they would want to ship it to the gulf coast when it is gushing from the middleof the us.

    • Pat McNally

      it will be shipped over-seas because we don’t have refineries that can cook it

      • rustacus21

        … & shipping ‘refined’ gasoline overseas does what to domestic (U.S.) prices? B/4 answering that tho, can some 1 tell me what speculators are doing in the petroleum-trading business anyway? Not only that, but why WE can’t extract them from the overall calculation? By hoarding supplies unnecessarily, they essentially control availability. Similarly, shipping ‘refined’ gasoline overseas also limits supplies, so the pump price stays hi. Now, of interest is who are these ‘speculators’? Are they simply traders? Are they oil company insiders (making their activities possibly ‘illegal’? – WHATEVER ‘illegal’ is anymore…)?… Just curious…

    • $, $, $ my friend. Someone powerful will make money out of it. That’s your answer!

    • Duh Ed the Gulf has the only refineries in America that can handle this for of heavy dirty crude.The slurry is no good until it is refined into oil. The crude in the Dakota’s and in Wyoming is of a lighter kind much like West Texas or sweet if you prefer. The lighter the crude the less the cost to turn it into gasoline. The more profit you make. It is all about the MONEY, not the economy.

      • I am sorry to disagree with you! We have refineries in North Dakota and we can build more if we need. The oil is going to Texas because that HAS THE FACILITIES TO EXPORT THE OIL! We need to wake up and smell the roses. this oil is not going to go the USA consumer! The Chinese and Indians will pay much more for Canadian oil that American consumers! This is way for these American billionaires to get a piece of the pie! And if we buy these lies, we are the ones who will pay for the spills and destruction of our water supplies! If we build the pipelines lets build them through the back yards of Mr. Hamm’s estate and through several of Romney’s many estates in the USA! Maybe we start with the beach house with the car elevator and his wives two cadillacs?

  • howa4x

    A Romney win will be the triumph of corporate America to impose it’s will on the rest of us. The entire country will be given to them, natural resources and all to do what they want, and they will be free of regulations.
    The ironic thing about Keystone oil sands is that it could be refined in N. Dakota easily, and would be cheaper to build one there instead of running 1400 miles of pipe. The only reason it has to go to the gulf is for exports. Most of this oil will find it’s way to emerging markets somewhere in the world depending on what the price is. As for the energy independence line, we heard it before Does anyone remember the controversy about the Alaskan pipeline? This is like deja vu. One one side we had the enviornmentalists talking about spills in remote areas, and on the other we had the oil companies talking about energy independence. The oil companies won the day, who would have believed that?
    The problem is we never got energy independence, and were still held hostage to off shore oil. We even invaded Iraq to seccure a cheap source of oil and did the same years ago with Kuwait, but did we get it? We prop up the Saudi monarchy, but do we get cheap oil?
    We are pumping the Gulf dry of oil and had the largest spill on record. Again energy independence won the arguement over enviormental concerns. Tthe cleanup costs will top 20 billion when its all done
    We are Fracking now for the same reason, to get cheap natural gas that will power America. This process uses cacinogenic chemicals like benzene to help fracture the rock. We are seeing well contamination everywhere this process is done, and in Ohio where all the waste is being taken to be pumped deeply underground, we are seeing plume contamination of the water supply eminating from the disposal site. So the question we have to ask is what price will we really pay for energy? The price is not only what you see at the pump. The real price is that plus the cost of cleanup. Maybe instead of buildnig the next giant coal plant or nuclear facility, we put a solar collector or windmill on every house and business in the area, or state. The power companies could still own them but would charge lower rates because of the homeowner is the generator. couple this with more mass transit and cars that get 50-60miles to the gallon and then maybe we will have real energy independence.

    • The shame of your article is that it is like a voice in the desert! Few will read it, and the descent we are facing will only worsen. I am so sick to see our great country going the way all great civilizations have gone before us. In a thousand years, we will join Rome, Greece, whomsover came before, France of the XVIIth century, England of the 18th and 19th.
      Our grandchildren will read: What once was a great nation…..

      • bluecloudsl

        Unfortunately Raoul you are right. You could see it beginning to happen under George Bush. Do not forget when his father was elected he stated “a new world order” will begin. Too bad there was not a law that could charge the Keystone billionaire ,Koch brothers and anyone else who has so much money to influence and buy presidents, change and undermine their own country with treason.

    • This could have not been said better ! I have Preached this all along WE DO NOT NEED TO PIPE THE OIL DOWN TO THE GULF COAST TO SHIP IT TO SITES OVER SEAS> STICK THE PIPE LINES UP ” ASSES ” END OF STORY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YOUNG VOTER (19 to 24 yrs) ,GAY & LESBIAN,ARMY ,WORKING CLASS ,POOR, all of the Votes will be COUNTED . We know “GOP SUPER PACK ” will spend lots of money & so will
    OBAMA CAMPAIGN MACHINE & its GRASSROOT ORGANIZATION in Every TOSS-UP States plus all the BLUE & some RED States . We have COUNT . We also have 35 Campaign CO-CHAIR &
    ADVISOR and PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON on our side ,also MONEY. We are READY for

  • I don’t know about the rest of people here but didn’t we just get screwed 12 years ago with the Bush, Cheney, Rice oil cartel? We already have the Kock Bros. another pair of leeches in the oil industry, do we need any more?

  • No wonder Romney is for the pipeline, even though all the oil will be processed here and then sent to China! At least I must say this election has brought out the truth in many areas…will be interesting to see if the American people believe the truth or not! I wonder if this pipeline will run through Mr. Hamm’s estate and contaminate his property! Or if it run through any of Romney’s numerous estates? I don’t know how these people wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and can like what they see!

  • Jon

    That’s exactly what is expected if this Pub happens to win the W.H. B’ness as usual with no twists, no surprises, just more corporate perks. I would like to ask those who are head strong in even contemplating voting for this elite but I know their reason whether it’s insane or just spiteful.. Whether it’s for the hope that another Pub will magically erase all those trillions without destroying the middle class and murdering the poor and whether or not they can realize the implications of their repub yell, “Anybody but Obama”. Very dangerous motto to be sure in relation to the alternative. I still wonder.

  • Kiss my DONKEY you ROBBER along with your Buddy ROMNEY ! The more you two get the more you wan’t !

  • Send his Fat Ass over there and take your Buddy Romney along AMAN !

  • widollar

    One of the ways to counter Romney’s rich pals like Harold Hamm and to stop him is to get Mike Bloomberg, who has more money than Hamm, to go back to the Democratic Party where he was before wanting to become Mayor of New York, and fund Obama’s political campaign with tons of cash. Mike Bloomberg would make a good Secretary of State in the new Obama regime.