Billionaire Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm sharply criticized environmental regulations in a pro-Donald Trump speech on energy policy at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night.
The Continental Resources CEO's remarks came amid reports he would be named energy secretary if the Republican candidate is elected in November.
Hamm is a supporter and one of Trump's most important energy influencers. The fossil fuel mogul warned that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would continue President Obama's legacy of smothering oil and gas producers with punitive regulations. Hamm said electing Trump would reverse those government hurdles, untether the energy industry, and create millions of jobs.
"[He would] develop our most strategic geopolitical weapon: crude oil," Hamm said. "Every time we can't drill a well in America, terrorism is being funded."
Sources close to the Trump campaign told Reuters that, if elected, the GOP candidate would consider naming Hamm energy secretary. If that happened, he would be the first U.S. energy secretary drawn directly from the oil and gas industry, Michelle Conlin reported Wednesday:
Past heads of the U.S. Department of Energy, which is charged with advancing U.S. energy security and technology and dealing with nuclear waste disposal, have typically boasted a political or academic background.
This is not the first time Hamm has been in contention for the job.
The Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2012, Mitt Romney, vetted Hamm to be energy secretary but ultimately decided against him because the two men have differing positions on renewable energy sources like wind.
Conlin says Trump has yet to announce who might make up his cabinet, but has said he wants to curb federal regulations to make life easier for oil and gas producers. Trump is also listening to climate change skeptics and traditional energy supporters:
He tapped U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, a climate skeptic and drilling advocate, to help draw up his campaign energy platform, and picked Indiana Governor Mike Pence, also a climate skeptic, as his running mate.
Both moves cheered the energy industry but alarmed environmental activists who say a Trump presidency would set back years of progress on issues like pollution and climate change.
"Given that Hamm's as close as we've got to a fracker-in-chief in this country, it would be an apropos pick for a president who thinks global warming is a hoax manufactured by the Chinese," said leading environmental activist Bill McKibben.
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