Profiling Team Romney: Continental Resources' Harold Hamm

By Anna Simet | October 23, 2012

Harold Hamm, a.k.a. “America’s Oil Man,” is chairman of Romney’s energy policy advisory team and likely his first runner-up choice for  energy secretary after American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard.

An Oklahoma native, Hamm is a champion of domestic oil and gas exploration and has been CEO of self-founded company Continental Resources since 1967. He was ranked by Forbes as the thirtieth richest person in the U.S., owns the rights to more oil than any other American, and boasts a rags-to-riches success story that he credits to achieving the American dream. He described himself in a recent testimony to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee as “the thirteenth child of a sharecropper turn a one-man, one-pump-truck operation into one of the nation’s largest oil companies.”

During the aforementioned testimony, purposed to stress the vitality of Big Oil tax breaks to America achieving energy independence, Hamm remarked that America has a huge supply of oil that is ready to be tapped, and removing the tax policy would result in the loss of thousands of industry jobs that pay double the national average for manufacturing jobs, a 30 percent decrease in drilling activity, and increased energy costs for the consumer.

As energy secretary, Hamm would press for the reduction of regulatory burdens on the oil industry, permitting more drilling on federal lands, and for development of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which he was initially opposed to. After TransCanada Corp. proposed to add a $140 million extension line that would benefit Continental Resources and other nearby producers, however, Hamm began supporting the project. Romney’s platform whitepaper, which Hamm helped devise, commits to approving the project and streamlining permitting.

Hamm’s appointing to energy secretary would not likely benefit renewable energy or biofuels, as evidenced in an opinion editorial he authored for the Oklahoman in March 2011. Hamm wrote that he feared Obama “will attempt to drive us headlong into the magical fantasy of alternative and renewable energy,” and continued on to describe the replacement of fossil fuels, namely oil and natural gas but coal as well, as “a great sound bite.”

Hamm also remarked that calling for fossil fuel substitution in the beginning age of alternative fuel development is worse than premature. “It is a cruel hoax played upon the American public,” he wrote. “Presently, there are simply no viable alternatives, merely supplements. More than 85 percent of the world’s ground transportation fuel and 100 percent of air transportation fuel comes from oil. That is not going to change any time soon.”

Hamm, who was registered as a Democrat prior to 2004, is described by many as an unusual choice as energy adviser, as past presidents have not chosen advisers with such strong stakes in oil. 

 Editor’s Note: This is the third of a six-part series profiling the agricultural and energy advisors to the Romney/Ryan campaign.

To view part one, Adam Putnam's profile, click here. 

To view part two, Jack Gerard's profile, click here.