Plenty of energy conferences start in the wonky policy weeds and stay there.
That wasn’t the case with this week’s Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in North Dakota, which featured a big dose of raw presidential politics.
“Why is energy such a high-level issue this year?,” said Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources and chairman of Romney’s energy policy advisory team, on Thursday. “It is pretty simple: because of the failure of Obama’s energy policy.”
He said Obama’s policies aimed at developing renewable energy are based on a false notion of oil and natural-gas “scarcity” that has been overtaken by the U.S. production boom.
“Romney has a policy of abundance; the other one is one of scarcity,” Hamm said.
Forum Communications Co. posted a couple minutes of Hamm’s remarks here.
He boiled his message down to three words, according to Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple.
“Beat Barack Obama,” Hamm said.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) spoke at the same conference as part of this week’s House GOP push on energy.
Romney’s energy and environmental platform calls for stripping EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and expanding oil-and-gas leasing to include areas that are currently off limits, including the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, among other measures.
He has also vowed to quickly approve the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline if elected.
The Obama administration has for months been parrying GOP attacks and seeking to show its support for wider oil-and-gas drilling, noting that production has risen in recent years.
Obama gave a speech in Iowa on Thursday that called for extension of a key wind energy tax credit, but made sure to talk up his backing for oil-and-gas too as part of an “all of the above” energy plan.
He noted that dependence on oil imports has been decreasing during his tenure.
“We said let's produce more oil and gas, but let's also produce more biofuels; let's produce more fuel-efficient cars; let's produce more solar and wind power and other sources of clean, renewable energy,” Obama said at an Iowa plant that manufactures wind turbine blades.