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Meet the Oil Billionaire Shaping Donald Trump’s Energy Policy
By Mark Floegel
Fossil fuel billionaire and major fracking proponent Harold Hamm, who has Donald Trump's ear on energy and environmental issues, had a prime-time slot at the Republican National Convention (RNC) last tonight, also known as "Make America First Again" night.
Left: Donald Trump, Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons. Right: Harold Hamm, Photo credit: David Shankbone / Creative Commons.
He spoke after businesswoman Michelle Van Etten and before unsuccessful Republican presidential hopefuls Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well as Eric Trump, Newt Gingrich and Gingrich's wife Callista. Trump's vice presidential pick, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), spoke, too.
"Make America One Again" night (formerly known as Thursday) will feature retired quarterback Fran Tarkenton, investment company CEO Tom Barrack and Trump himself.
Last night's line-up had no shortage of oddballs and extremists, but there's a reason Harold Hamm's name sticks out.
Hamm is straight out of the fossil fuel industry's central casting.
He's a climate-denying serial liar who made his billions at the expense of the Earth and its people. A genuine (as opposed to merely asserted) billionaire, Hamm is the 13th child of a cotton sharecropper who worked his way up through the oil business and whose company—Continental Resources—now controls much of the carbon-rich Bakken Formation in North Dakota.
In one of Trump's hazardous forays into actual policy in May, he borrowed an often-told yarn about overly-zealous regulators. The story strayed from truth when Hamm told it; Donald inevitably Trump-sized the distortions. In Trump's version, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assessed corporations "multi-billion dollar fines" for causing the death of migratory birds.
(Fact check on that: it was not the EPA, it was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The proposed fine—eventually dismissed by a judge—was $420,000. To reach the nearest multiple billion, the unlevied fine would need to be multiplied by 4,761. No worries, if Trump is elected, those fines won't happen anymore, he guarantees it. Even though they never did).
Hamm not only originated Trump's talking points for that speech, he introduced him at the event in North Dakota.
But Hamm's fingerprints on Trump's energy "policy" don't stop there.
The area where Hamm's influence is perhaps most apparent is fracking.
In late 2013—when it became clear that liquid waste from fracking operations like Hamm's injected deep underground were causing increasingly frequent, powerful earthquakes—Hamm acted decisively. Not to stop the waste injection and thus the earthquakes, but to silence the Oklahoma state geologists who made the fracking-seismic link.
The state's lead seismologist was summoned to a "coffee" with Hamm and Oklahoma State University President and former Republican Sen. David Boren to discuss the matter (and, apparently, the seismologist's career). By last summer, all of Oklahoma's state seismologists decided to pursue other employment.
Trump, meanwhile has outspokenly supported fracking throughout his campaign, even referring to Hamm as "the king of energy."
In fact, one of the only areas where Trump and Hamm diverge is in the reception they've received from the Koch brothers. The Kochs and the Hamms go back years (and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars), while the Kochs—by some accounts the most influential conservative political donors and tireless funders of climate denial—have not warmed to Trump.
When it comes to energy, it's Hamm all the way for Trump. And that's terrible news for the environment.
Mark Floegel is the research director with Greenpeace USA. He has been working on public advocacy issues since 1987.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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By Sam Nickerson
Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard's School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.
The study, published this week in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.
Tyson Foods Recalls Nearly 70,000 Pounds of Chicken Strips After Customers Find ‘Fragments of Metal’
Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.
The affected products were fully-cooked "Buffalo Style" and "Crispy" chicken strips with a "use by" date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of "P-7221" on the back of the package.
"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers," the recall notice said. "Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."
Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.
The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.