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President Barack Obama's four-state energy tour stops in Oklahoma on Wednesday

The president is expected to focus on domestic energy production and the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline when he visits a pipe yard near Cushing on Thursday
by Chris Casteel Published: March 21, 2012

“Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years,” the president said in a speech in Maryland on Thursday.

The administration, he said, has also “opened millions of acres of land in 23 different states for oil and gas exploration. Offshore, I've directed my administration to open up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources.”

Before arriving in Oklahoma, the president on Wednesday is scheduled to visit oil and gas production fields outside of Maljamar, N.M., which, according to the White House, is home to more than 70 rigs drilling on federal land.

Energy executive responds

Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc., which has used horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota and Montana to tap into crude oil resources previously considered unrecoverable, said Tuesday that it was “ironic and almost absurd” that the president is going to Oklahoma to talk about his energy policies.

“The renaissance going on in the United States with crude oil and natural gas is because of one thing — it's horizontal drilling, precision horizontal drilling,” he said.

Hamm, who is an energy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said permitting for drilling on federal land has dropped dramatically in the last few years.

The Energy Information Administration, part of the U.S. Energy Department, reported last week that onshore production on federal lands is at its highest level since 2003 and that offshore production is higher than it was in 2008.

Hamm said that was production from permits approved before Obama took office in 2009. Since then, he said, federal drilling activity has slowed.

In many of his speeches about energy, Obama has been calling on Congress to eliminate the tax breaks used by oil and gas companies to write off risk and depletion of their resource. Since taking office, the president has proposed using $4 billion a year from the tax breaks to fund clean energy projects.

The Senate last year rejected a proposal to end the tax breaks for the five largest oil and gas companies.

Hamm said the tax breaks Obama is targeting “are the same deductions every other business in America gets. These are not subsidies.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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