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Trump's Connection to Dakota Access Pipeline

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By Steve Horn

Continental Resources—the company founded and led by CEO Harold Hamm, energy adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign and potential U.S. Secretary of Energy under a Trump presidency—has announced to investors that oil it obtains via fracking from North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin is destined for transport through the hotly-contested Dakota Access Pipeline.

Left: Donald Trump. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons. Right: Harold Hamm. Photo credit: David Shankbone / Creative Commons.

The company's 37-page September 2016 Investor Update presentation walks investors in the publicly-traded company through various capital expenditure and profit-margin earning scenarios. It also features five slides on the Bakken Shale, with the fifth one named "CLR Bakken Differentials Decreasing Through Increased Pipeline Capacity" honing in on Dakota Access, ETCOP and how the interconnected lines relate to Continental's marketing plans going forward.

In a section of that slide, titled "Bakken Takeaway Capacity," a bar graph points out that the opening of Dakota Access would allow more barrels of Continental's Bakken fracked oil to flow through pipelines.

Dakota Access is slated to carry the fracked Bakken oil across South Dakota, Iowa and into Patoka, Illinois. From there, it will connect to the company's Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline (ETCOP) line, which terminates in Nederland, Texas at the Sunoco Logistics-owned refinery.

Continental Resources

From Keystone XL to Dakota Access

Previously, Harold Hamm was as an outspoken supporter of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, deploying the lobbying group he founded named the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance to advocate for KXL and a Bakken on-ramp which would connect to it. Once he realized the northern leg was doomed politically, Hamm began singing a different tune on Keystone.

"We're supporting other pipelines out there, we're not waiting on Keystone XL. Nobody is," Hamm, also an energy adviser to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, told Politico in November 2014. "That thing … needed action on it six years ago. I just think it's too late and we need to move on."

One of those "other pipelines" Hamm appears to have taken an interest in is Dakota Access (DAPL). Although to date, neither Hamm nor Trump have commented publicly on the DAPL project. Continental Resources told DeSmog that it does not comment on pipeline shipping contracts.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang pointed out in a recent article, some oil from Dakota Access could feed export markets, despite Energy Transfer's claims in a presentation that it will feature "100% Domestic produced crude" that "supports 100% domestic consumption."

Hamm's Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, as revealed in a December 2015 DeSmog investigation, led the successful public relations and lobbying campaign charge for lifting the crude oil export ban.

The battle over the fate of Dakota Access has pitted Native American Tribes, environmentalists and libertarian private property rights supporters against Energy Transfer Partners and state- and federal-level agencies which have permitted the project.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe awaits a decision by a Judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in its lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, set for Sept. 9.

"Hamm is an oil profiteer exploiting the health of the water, farmland and communities in the Dakotas and all downstream," Angie Carter of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network—one of the more than 30 groups comprising the Iowa-based Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition—told DeSmog. "In Iowa, we've called upon both Trump and Clinton to speak out against the pipeline."

Like Trump, Clinton has yet to comment on the pipeline.

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