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Trump ready to unleash oil industry

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Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference in Bismarck, North Dakota US May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst 2 / 4
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on Thursday during the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, N.D. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press) 3 / 4
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and his wife, Betsy, applaud Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, N.D. (Dustin Monke / The Dickinson Press) 4 / 4

BISMARCK – Donald Trump pledged ‘complete’ American energy independence and a focus on putting workers before regulations Thursday to a crowd that is eager to make the Bakken great again.

The Republican presidential hopeful told more than 7,000 people at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference that his policies on energy will put drilling rigs and people back to work.

“Under my presidency, we’ll accomplish a complete American energy independence. Complete,” said Trump, prompting cheers from the crowd that lined up for blocks to get into the Bismarck Event Center.

Before speaking, Trump shook hands with North Dakota Republican delegates and thanked them for putting him over the top in the campaign for the presidential nomination.

“North Dakota, you brought us over the line folks,” he said. “I will always remember that.”

Trump’s message on energy policy aligned with what many oil industry leaders had been calling for during the conference, where hats with the slogan “Make the Bakken Great Again” were for sale Thursday.

“I think the federal government should get out of the way,” Trump told reporters prior to his public address. “The federal government is in the way. We have so much potential energy that people wouldn’t even believe it.”

Trump also said that unlike Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, he supports fracking.

“They want to absolutely knock out fracking. You do that, you’re going to be back into the Middle East and you’re going to be begging for oil again,” Trump said. “Not going to happen. Not with me.”

During his speech, Trump elicited boos from the crowd when he mentioned Clinton, but cheers when he called her “crooked Hillary.”

“Costly regulation makes it harder and harder to turn a profit,” Trump said. “If crooked Hillary Clinton is in charge, things will get much worse, believe me.”

Trump said he has a 100-day action plan, which includes destroying all of Obama’s executive actions. He specifically mentioned repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule and canceling the Paris climate agreement.

Trump also said he would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, but said the U.S. should get a significant chunk of the profits.

“Let’s take a piece of the action for you folks, lower your taxes a little bit more,” Trump said. “Without us, they can’t move it, so sounds like it makes a lot of sense to me.”

Trump pledged his support for the coal industry and said he supports renewable energy “but not to the exclusion of other forms of energy that right now are working much better.”

He also acknowledged North Dakota’s agriculture industry.

“For the farmers out here, you do an awfully good job, and I’ve heard that for many years about North Dakota.”

A focus on energy development will not only add jobs, including adding to the manufacturing sector, but provide energy security, Trump said.

“Imagine a world in which our foes and the oil cartels can no longer use energy as a weapon,”  he said.

The crowd, which included no protests and only outbursts of support, whistled and cheered extra loudly when Trump talked about “knocking out” terrorism.

“We have to knock the hell out of ISIS,” he said.

The audience also responded to Trump’s calls for immigration reform and making communities safer.

“We will build the wall. And who’s going to pay for the wall?” Trump said, prompting many in the crowd to chant “Mexico.”

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who’s advising Trump on energy issues, joined Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm in introducing Trump to the crowd.

“Donald Trump comes to Bismarck and oil goes over $50 a barrel the same day,” Cramer joked.

Hamm called Trump “a guy who’s got a tremendous amount of vision.”

“America needs a businessman, not a bureaucrat,” Hamm said in a statement released prior to the event. “Donald Trump cares about jobs and the economy. He cares about keeping the American Energy Renaissance alive and setting our nation’s pent-up potential free.”

Not everyone at the oil industry conference was Trump supporters. North Dakota members of the Laborers International Union of North America, who had a large presence at the conference, have endorsed Hillary Clinton.

“If you ask our members, they’ll tell you that America never stopped being great,” said spokesman Kevin Pranis. “They want a president who not only supports our industries, but will also help make sure laborers earn a fair wage and come home safe every night.”

North Dakota Democrats issued statements Thursday blasting the state’s Republicans for supporting Trumps “brand of fear, ignorance, and hatred.

“North Dakotans are always interested in thoughtful, bipartisan dialogue about the issues facing our state and country,” said Dem-NPL Chairwoman Rep. Kylie Oversen. “Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what North Dakotans hear from Trump. Instead of substantive ideas to move our country forward, he offers insults and name calling.”