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Energy doomsday scenario pushed by industry groups as election approaches

3 min read

Will the nation’s recently found energy independence evaporate if former Vice President Joe Biden wins November’s election against President Donald Trump?

The issue came up in Thursday's debate when Biden said, “I would transition away from the oil industry, yes. The oil industry pollutes, significantly. It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time.”

Trump, who has repeatedly stated that Biden favors a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), responded, “Basically what he is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that, Texas? Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”

The interchange highlights how the energy industry once again is in the crosshairs of political action. Speculation over which candidate or party best supports the industry is always debated — especially leading up to presidential elections.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and other energy-related advocacy groups are making last-minute predictions about how the industry might change if Biden emerges as the victor.

Some, like Continental founder Harold Hamm, feel Biden would significantly harm the industry and the broader economy as a whole, while others estimate the energy industry could see a more "mixed bag" of results.

If Biden were to bar new oil and gas leases for wells drilled on- and off-shore on federal lands and waters, API predicts domestic production of natural gas would drop about 12% and cut the production of crude oil by nearly a quarter.

It also predicts significant losses of jobs, royalty revenues to state and federal governments and a decrease of the nation's gross domestic product.

It also predicts foreign oil imports would increase and that U.S. consumers could pay substantially more for the energy they consume.

Hamm warns of consequences

Harold Hamm, the executive chairman of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, is visiting with reporters across the country to discuss how he believes Biden’s proposal could harm the nation’s domestic energy industry.

He told The Oklahoman that while predicted production cuts could help commodity values, he feared resulting job cuts, the loss of economic activity and other factors could throw the nation into a full-fledged depression.

While the Biden campaign has temporized its plans related to climate change and the environment as the election approaches, Hamm said its ultimate goal remains unchanged.

“What they are really talking about is shutting down horizontal drilling across the country,” he said, noting the industry expects it would see a return to what it experienced under President Obama's administration, which did what it could administratively to slow development of oil and gas leases involving federal lands.

“We called it a death of 1,000 cuts,” Hamm said. “Under Biden, we would go right back to an environment of scarcity of resources, rather than the abundance of resources the industry has developed under the Trump administration.”

He also criticized Biden for his vote as a congressman to support the Fuel Use Act of 1978, a law that required that any new power plants built in the U.S. to supply base loads of electricity using coal...

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