Industry conferences can attract some strange bedfellows, particularly those hosted in high-profile areas.
A featured guest at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference was conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, who was preaching his “Get America Back to Work” campaign to the WBPC choir.
Speaking to a packed convention center that gave him several standing ovations, Hannity fielded several pre-recorded call-ins that featured people talking about job success. The gist of his message: if the federal government followed the lead of North Dakota and opened areas off-limits to drilling, the “rising tide would lift all boats.”
“If I want to drill and frac … in California, the Gulf of Mexico, ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] … anywhere we can, every problem America has goes away,” he said.
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At a press conference after his 50-minute speech, a reporter asked Hannity how states such as Vermont, Georgia or Idaho, which have no oil production, could follow the lead of North Dakota which had naturally abundant resources. His answer was that more regions have resources than produce them.
For example, New York could produce high-output unconventional wells, but the state has banned hydraulic fracturing used in that type of well. Elsewhere, the federal government prohibits drilling offshore Florida and the Atlantic Coast. If all areas were opened up, eventually the prosperity created by oil producing areas, would trickle down to non-producing areas and eventually create jobs there, he said.
Hannity did not know some important details about the drilling industry. For example, he wondered why oil companies were drilling in deepwater “when they could drill in shallow water.” When it was explained that they did so because the deepwater is where large oil reserves can be found, he said he was told that environmentalists forced companies to drill away from shore.
But while admitting he was “not an expert” in oil, Hannity appeared sufficiently impressed with North Dakota that he thanked state officials for what he called their “story of success.”
“You’ve been able to show America the story that energy is the lifeblood,” he said.