In an email to Dean Larry Grillot, Dean of the College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma, dated July 16, 2014, 3:27 p.m., Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, wrote the following in reference to a search for a new director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey: “I strongly feel that your search committee should include a representative from the oil and gas industry. I would be very interested and willing to sit on your search committee.” See full email here.
In an email to Danny Hilliard and to Catherine Bishop dated July 16, 2014, 6:46 p.m., Dean Grillot wrote the following about his meeting with Mr. Hamm earlier that day: “Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS staff dismissed.” See full email here.
Earlier this week, Catherine Bishop, the university’s vice president of public affairs (who saw both of the emails referenced above) told Bloomberg News the following: “Mr. Hamm absolutely did not ask to be on the search committee or to have anyone from Continental put onto the committee, nor did he ask that anyone from the Oklahoma Geological Survey be dismissed.”
This sounds like some major parsing of words here. It is kind of like talking about what the definition of “is” is. Dean Grillot understood from his meeting with Hamm that he wanted some OGS staff dismissed, and it is clear from Hamm’s own words that he wanted to be on that search committee. I guess since perhaps Hamm did not put either comment in the form of a question, the University of Oklahoma feels it can say that Mr. Hamm “did not ask” either of these things, but that is not really being honest, now is it?
This is not how a university models integrity for its students.
David Boren, President of the University of Oklahoma, has served as a paid member of the Board of Directors of Continental Resources since 2009 receiving both direct compensation and stocks from the company. He has received nearly $1 million for serving in that role since 2009, including $272,000 in 2013 according to a report from OETA.
For a full report on Hamm’s interaction with Dean Grillot about OGS staff and his interest in being on the OGS Director search committee, see the report in Bloomberg Business.
TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO HEAR
Industry loves science when it provides a more efficient and profitable way to extract raw materials which are then somehow “owned” by some for sale to others, but when it reveals what that process is doing to the environment and to the fate of our grandchildren, plausible denial begins. They stall, call for more studies, and in the meantime they remind everyone how much wealth such extraction has created–as if that wealth is broadly shared. Do you not love our professional basketball team, the Oklahoma City Thunder? Are you not proud of the Devon tower? A better question might be, Do you not understand that going to a Thunder game is like watching a continuous commercial for the oil and gas industry? Meanwhile our road and schools crumble, and a handful of powerful billionaires work to remake higher education into a place where workers are trained, rather than a place where human beings are taught to think for themselves and follow the evidence. The industry funds the research into the environmental impacts of “fracking” and the man-made earthquakes caused by injection wells while paying college presidents huge sums to sit on corporate boards, a clear and dangerous conflict of interest. We may learn soon that we have been conducting a grand experiment on the environment, with no way to reverse the damage we have done. This is how Empires operate. They control public opinion in service to short term gain by the elites while actually destroying what matters most to the rest of us in the long run. It is a grand seduction, but in the morning, the lover will have moved on. It gives new meaning to the old expression: Did you feel the earth move too?
Lest anyone doubt my willingness to speak out on such matters, the following is a quote from the prologue of my new book, “Spiritual Defiance: Building a Beloved Community of Resistance”, just published by Yale University Press:
The very deﬁnition of what it means to be a Christian
must be salvaged now, taken back, by force if necessary, from
those who domesticated a way of life and turned it into a quar-
reling quagmire of noisy “believers.” While we ﬁddle with the
meaning of the Trinity, present- day Rome is burning. While we
mumble our prayers for the poor, their poverty and pain in-
crease by the hour. While we coddle the industries that ravage
the earth for energy and then market death to us disguised as
comfort, the conscience of the faithful has been euthanized by
public relations campaigns that make us swoon with gratitude
for the humanitarian altruism of Big Oil.
–Rev. Dr. Robin R. Meyers is senior minister of Mayflower UCC church, OKC, and Distinguished Professor of Social Justice at Oklahoma City University