Summit Carbon investors seek to sew up Republican support

Continental Resources executive chairman Harold Hamm, center right, is surrounded by Summit representatives during a December 21, 2023 hearing of the North Dakota Public Service Commission. From left to right are Summit Carbon’s general counsel Jess Vilsack; Summit Carbon CEO Lee Blank; Summit Carbon COO James “Jimmy” Powell (seated in the row behind the others); North Dakota Petroleum Council president Ron Ness; Hamm; and Summit Agricultural Group CEO Justin Kirchhoff. (Photo by Kyle Martin, published with permission)

Nancy Dugan lives in Altoona, Iowa and has worked as an online editor for the past 12 years.

While billionaire wildcatter and Summit Carbon Solutions investor Harold Hamm appears to be hedging his bets, Bruce Rastetter, founder of Summit Agricultural Group, which launched the CO2 pipeline project, announced his support for Donald Trump during a Bloomberg News roundtable on January 13 in Des Moines. A Summit Agricultural Group news release also announced the endorsement, which came just two days before Trump’s decisive caucus victory in Iowa.

Meanwhile, Trump lambasted former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a vocal opponent of using eminent domain to build the Summit Carbon pipeline, in a January 13 post on his Truth Social platform. Trump declared Ramaswamy “not MAGA” and accused him of using “deceitful campaign tricks.” It was the first time the front-runner publicly criticized Ramaswamy, who ended his campaign and endorsed Trump immediately following the Iowa caucuses on January 15.

Trump’s about-face contradicted his take after the fourth GOP debate on December 9. “Vivek WINS because he thinks I’m great,” the former president posted on Truth Social at that time.

Another domino fell on January 14, when North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum endorsed Trump at an Indianola campaign rally. In an interview with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” last July, Burgum stated he would not “do business” with Trump. “You’re judged by the company you keep,” he added. As previously reported, Burgum is an ardent supporter of the Summit Carbon pipeline.

Hamm, executive chairman of privately held oil company Continental Resources, has donated to the three top Republican presidential contenders: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and most recently Trump. To date, Federal Election Commission (FEC) records indicate Ramaswamy has not received any campaign contributions from Hamm.

FEC records do not reveal any donations to presidential candidates by Rastetter, although that may soon change. Rastetter has given generously to the National Republican Congressional Committee in recent months.

Timothy Cama reported for Politico Pro last August that Hamm co-chaired a fundraiser for DeSantis in Oklahoma City on August 7. FEC records show that last year, Hamm personally gave the DeSantis campaign $6,600, the maximum allowable contribution to federal candidates for the 2024 primary and general elections.

The FEC also documents Hamm’s personal contributions to Haley totaling $6,600, as well as thousands of dollars in contributions to one or more political action committees associated with Haley’s campaign. Haley participated in a September 25 American Energy Security Summit held at the Hamm Institute for American Energy in Oklahoma City, OK Energy Today reported at the time. Burgum was in attendance as well. In January 2023, Hamm donated $50 million to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, which is slated to be built near Medora, North Dakota, according to the Associated Press.

Timothy Cama reported for Politico’s E&E News in October that Hamm donated $3,300 to Trump’s campaign in late August. Additionally, Josh Dawsey and Maxine Joselow reported for the Washington Post in November that Hamm appeared at Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago club in late October with “a $200,000 check for a pro-Trump super PAC.”

Bloomberg reported in July that Hamm had initially withdrawn his support of Trump, whom he backed in 2016 and 2020, in a May 2023 phone call with the former president. Recounting the conversation, Hamm said, “I told him we’ve been friends for a long time, I wanted to continue to be friends. He was disappointed. Hopefully we can be friends in the future.”


On January 4 of this year, Democrats on the U.S. House Oversight Committee released a report documenting payments from foreign governments to Trump during his presidency, the bulk of which emanated from China. Excerpt from the Foreword:

Drawing from actual receipts and records and using the most conservative possible accounting methodologies, White House for Sale: How Princes, Prime Ministers, and Premiers Paid Off President Trump recounts how, as President, Donald Trump accepted more than $7.8 million in payments from foreign states and their leaders, including some of the world’s most unsavory regimes.

The report also documents successful efforts by U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer to “bury evidence” related to certain countries:

…Chairman Comer worked with Donald Trump’s attorneys to bury further evidence of former President Trump’s misconduct by depriving the Committee’s Democratic staff of the ability to work with Mazars to conduct further searches for responsive records, including for any documents regarding payments potentially from Russia, South Korea, South Africa, and Brazil.

Another major Summit Carbon investor is SK E&S, a subsidiary of behemoth South Korean chaebol SK Group. Additionally, Summit Agricultural Group, which founded Summit Carbon Solutions and is also a major investor in the proposed CO2 pipeline, operates three corn ethanol plants in central Brazil with its partner, Fiagril Participações  (now Tapajós Participações S.A.). According to a May 14, 2019, Reuters article by Ana Mano, the Brazilian firm is majority owned by China-based Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming Co Ltd., a subsidiary of Chinese firm Shanghai Pengxin Group Co.

The Reuters article stated that Fiagril secured a $300 million revolving loan from China Development Bank in 2019, which was expected to provide working capital for three years.

As a result of the House Oversight Committee’s decision to block production of additional evidence, it is not known whether Trump received payments from South Korea and Brazil while serving as president. However, the report highlighted a previously unearthed nearly $20 million outstanding debt, held by South Korean conglomerate Daewoo, when Trump took office.


Continental Resources’ website describes the company as “the largest leaseholder and the largest producer in the nation’s premier oil field, the Bakken play of North Dakota and Montana.” And although, as of January 7, the Summit Carbon website stated that carbon sequestration will take place “in an area of North Dakota where no enhanced oil recovery operations occur,” North Dakota officials have begun to speak publicly about the state’s plans to eventually use CO2 transported by Summit for enhanced oil recovery, and potentially for other purposes.

Several representatives talked about the use of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery at a Friends of Ag and Energy public information session on the Summit Carbon pipeline, held at Bismarck State College’s National Energy Center of Excellence last month. A BEK TV special report covered the event on December 20. Burgum stated the following during his opening remarks:

We’re on team liquid fuels in North Dakota, whether that’s biodiesel or ethanol or oil and gas in your car, because, you know, we’re up against an administration, we’re up against a set of policies right now that basically say that we’re going to replace all of those vehicles over time, going to replace liquid fuels and everyone’s going to drive an EV. We finally got out from underneath OPEC after 40 years, and then we’re going to trade that for Sinopec, and we’re going to have, every electric vehicle we drive is going to be coming from a battery made in a country, China, that controls 85 percent of the rare earth minerals. And so that’s what we’re all about.

Sinopec is China’s largest state-owned oil company. In a September 4, 2023, News Atlas article, Sinopec predicted that gasoline demand in China has already peaked and is now in a long-term downward spiral due to the country’s rapid adoption of electric vehicles. The irony lies in the fact that an arm of the SK Group, SK Global Chemical, is in business with Sinopec. As explained above, yet another arm of the SK Group, SK E&S, owns a 10 percent stake in Summit Carbon Solutions.

Burgum highlighted the Dakota Gasification Co.’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, which has operated a CO2 pipeline since the year 2000, transporting a total of more than 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide according to Burgum. He also referenced a CO2 pipeline owned by Denbury in Wyoming that extends through Montana into North Dakota. ExxonMobil recently purchased all Denbury CO2 pipelines, including the Rocky Mountain region referenced by Burgum, as well as the Gulf Coast region, which includes the site of the February 2020 pipeline rupture in Satartia, Mississippi. Burgum repeatedly emphasized “innovation, not regulation” during his lengthy December 20 speech.


Trump canceled his in-person Iowa events on January 13 following a winter storm. But he held a telerally broadcast by Right Side Broadcasting that day, where the following exchange occurred between the candidate and Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird. As noted above, January 13 was the day Rastetter endorsed Trump, and Trump attacked CO2 pipeline critic Ramaswamy.

Trump’s remarks parrot Burgum’s statements during the BEK TV event in December, as well as comments Rastetter made during a January 13 interview with Bloomberg Television.

The exchange begins at roughly the 27:35 minute mark of this video.

Bird: I want to talk a little bit, too, about Social Security and Medicare, because that’s something that’s important to a lot of people. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley have both called for raising the retirement age and making major cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits. And when you were president, you protected Social Security and Medicare for American seniors, and you promised to do so again in your second term. Tell us why that’s so important to you.

Trump: First of all that – you’ve earned it. I mean, they’ve earned it. They want to cut it, and they also want to, you know, the Medicare, they want to cut that, and why are you doing this? We have more liquid gold right under our feet. We have so much wealth in this country, and we don’t want to do it. We want to go to all electric cars so that we don’t use our wealth.

You know, China has that kind of wealth because they have the battery wealth. But electric cars don’t go far. They’re very expensive, and they’re going to all be made in China. That’s why I think – we had a poll just come out, and we’re 11 points up in Michigan because the auto workers, and, you know, South Carolina way up to, uh, wherever you make autos, because the auto workers understand if you go all electric you’re making those cars in China. They’re not going to be made here; they’re going to be made in China.

And, uh, in addition to that, you should be able to buy electric cars, but you have to buy gasoline combustion, you have to buy, uh, anything you want. You shouldn’t be restricting it to electric. You go to California, I was there this summer, and you have blackouts and brownouts all the time, and now we’re supposed to, they want all their cars to be on electric. The problem is though with, with the car, uh, the batteries are very, somewhat expensive, uh, but they’re really, uh, they can be very dangerous. You know that.

And they can be very big, they take up a lot of room. Like, they want to go all electric trucks, and half of the capacity that the truck is supposed to use for load is going to be a battery. But the other problem is they just don’t go far. They just don’t go far. A truck will go 300 miles, a big, you know, an 18-wheeler go 300 miles, and on gasoline, you take a Peterbilt or, you know, one of the, the great, uh, companies that really build – do great jobs, uh, they’ll go 2,000 miles.

So you go 2,000 miles on diesel, and the tank for the diesel is very small compared to the battery. The battery, to go even 3 or 400 miles is much, much bigger than the tank, so they’re gonna have to devote a lot of that. And, and some of the things that I stopped, they want to go all electric army tanks, okay. The problem is they don’t go far, and it’s a different kind of power, also by the way. But they don’t go far.

You know, you say, what are they doing? And I somewhat joke, I’m trying to be sarcastic about it, I say they go in to obliterate a country, an enemy, because they want to make the atmosphere nice and safe, nice and clean. We want a pure, clean atmosphere as we knock the country to hell. The whole thing is crazy, and the battery is so big that to do it properly, they’d have to pull a truck behind it to carry the battery – you – can you believe it?

Bird: Unbelievable.

Trump: So they want to do that. They want to do the boat, now they want to do boats. They want boats to be all electric. The whole thing is so crazy. I call it the green new scam.

Bird: Right, right, right.

Trump: It’s not the green new deal, it’s a green new scam. It’s terrible.

UPDATE from Laura Belin: On the evening of January 15, Ramaswamy suspended his presidential campaign and endorsed Trump.

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Nancy Dugan

  • always good to follow the $

    appreciate Nancy’s dogged attention to this fiasco, Repuglicans are immune to being shamed or otherwise held accountable around their hypocrisies but maybe some Dems will get onboard with standing against these abuses of state police powers, at least Bird got one thing right:
    “Bird: Unbelievable.”

  • Thank you, Nancy Dugan...

    …and since I don’t want to post repetitive comments, please take this thank you for all the dogged excellent work you have been doing on this very complicated topic and will, I really hope, continue to do in the future, for the benefit of all of us who read your work. What you report evokes angry energy. I try to channel that into activism. Iowa is fortunate to have you here.