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Oil Billionaire Harold Hamm on Federal Tax Incentives: ‘No One Sent Me a Check’

Filed by KOSU News in State Impact.
September 15, 2012

Oklahoma oil billionaire Harold Hamm visited Washington, D.C. on Thursday to defend oil and gas industry tax incentives and to urge lawmakers to open more federally owned land for drilling.

Hamm, CEO and Chairman of Oklahoma oil giant Continental Resources and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s chief energy adviser, also took issue with the underlying cause of President Barack Obama’s claim that domestic oil production increased during his administration. The growth happened “in spite of” Washington, Hamm said.

“It’s been brought on by the private sector entirely,” he told U.S. Rep. Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky.

Hamm told the committee that domestic oil and gas production could fall 40 percent if tax deductions and incentives for the petroleum industry were eliminated.

And in his prepared remarks, Hamm said the shift from foreign sources to domestic production of oil has yielded increased tax revenues, high-paying jobs and general economic growth.

Drilling for oil and gas is risky and expensive, and tax incentives and deductions for oil and gas companies stretch the definition of “subsidy,” Hamm argued:

“Now my recollection of what a subsidy means is when you are given money to do something. I guess when I drilled 17 dry holes in a row I missed that pay window. No one sent me a check.”

Such incentives let companies like Hamm’s keep their “own money to reinvest in drilling.”

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