Donald Trump huddled Tuesday with oil and gas executives in Colorado, expanding his outreach to an industry that has seen its influence grow in the Republican nominee’s campaign after some early missteps.
Trump told the industry he would reduce regulations, in contrast to the approach of President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Safety and environmental rules are necessary, Trump told the executives, according to a pool report, but there are also “regulations that are totally unnecessary and put people out of work.” He apparently did not get into specifics in the 10 minutes reporters were allowed to stay in the room.
The Trump campaign said 15 executives were invited to the meeting, but a pool reporter said he counted only 14 people in the room. One executive stressed the importance of “the shale revolution,” and all generally agreed with Trump’s conclusion that “regulations are probably your biggest problem.”
Trump’s meeting in Denver comes as two polls this week showed Clinton with an 11-point lead in Colorado. Trump brought up polls of the state and told the oil executives “we’re doing really well,” according to the pool report.
The New York developer raised eyebrows in the state this summer when he appeared to endorse proposed ballot measures that would have effectively let cities and towns ban fracking. “I think if the voters are voting for it, that’s up to them,” he told a local TV station in July. In the end, activists failed to collect enough signatures to get the anti-fracking measures on the November ballot, and Trump associates walked back his comment.
Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, the oil executive said to be on Trump’s Energy Secretary short list, later told the Wall Street Journal that Trump “did not understand” the issue of local fracking bans when he answered the question but “he does now.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Trump also told the oil and gas executives that while safety and environmental regulations are called for, regulations have generally “gotten out of control” and solely benefit “people in government,” according to the pool report.