In an appearance before the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, the CEO of Continental Resources will argue for preserving the billions of dollars in tax subsidies the federal government provides to oil companies each year. Given that Continental Resources bills itself as “America’s Oil Champion” (after, we assume, a difficult championship battle), the CEO’s stance probably comes as no surprise. In fact, it’s hard to figure out why the Senate’s even bothering to hear from him, when a large blinking sign reading MORE MONEY PLS would be functionally equivalent.
But the CEO of Continental Resources, one Harold Hamm, isn’t just another energy executive. He’s also chair of Mitt Romney’s energy advisory team. The Hill got a copy of his planned testimony, in which Hamm declares that “[t]he tax provisions that let us keep our own money to reinvest in drilling are crucial to keep this energy revival going.” More directly, Hamm implies that ending the subsidies would “slow down, if not stop, America’s march to energy independence.”
A quick reminder: These subsidies are enjoyed by fossil fuel companies across the board, including the first-, third-, fourth-, and 12th-largest companies in America. Those four companies alone made $154 a minute in 2011 — in profits. We suspect that excising the government’s largesse will still leave them with a little folding money.
Hamm’s statement is probably more noteworthy given what it reveals about the Romney campaign. Hamm doesn’t necessarily speak for the campaign, but it’s hard to believe that he would make this presentation without the campaign’s agreement. Nor would it be a surprise if Romney were interested in continuing policies so important to Big Oil, though it’s not a popular move: A poll in March 2011 indicated that 74 percent of Americans wanted to end these subsidies.
If Mitt Romney wins in November, there’s a not-insignificant chance that Hamm could end up as secretary of energy or, perhaps worse, secretary of the interior. Feel pretty confident that Big Oil wouldn’t mind America’s Oil Champion in either of those roles.
Get Grist in your inbox