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Energy speech leaves North Dakotans 'drunk on Trump'

Donald Trump's promise to get government out of the way of energy companies was greeted with hoots and hollers in shale-rich North Dakota, where the presumptive GOP presidential nominee presented his plan.

Shortly before the speech Thursday, John Trandem, a North Dakota GOP delegate, became the decisive 1,237th to declare support for the New York tycoon's bid for the nomination.

In his speech at an energy conference, Trump called for cutting regulations and for building the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration has blocked.

"I'm drunk on Trump," proclaimed John Olson, a North Dakota unbound delegate and attorney representing oil, natural gas and coal companies.

"He gave us policy specifics. He talked about building Keystone and eliminating the over-regulation in the energy sector. By freeing up the industry from the massive regulation burden, it would allow businesses in America to grow which would then create jobs and put Americans back to work," Olson said. "Trump also said he thinks wind [power] should make it on its own. And let's get government out of the way so capital waiting on the sidelines can be invested. We can take care of our environment and produce energy at the same time."

Gary Emineth, an unbound delegate and a former Republican National Committee chair for the state, praised Trump for promising to open up federal lands for energy exploration and development.

"Trump said this can be for oil or coal. He said we can then use that money to pay down our national debt," Emineth said. "Trump said he knows the country's reserves of oil and natural gas can make the U.S. independent from the volatile Middle East."

But some energy experts disagree, saying there is more to the energy independence equation than just supply. Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, said that while U.S. resources may be vast enough to make the nation energy independent, price has to play a crucial part.

"Without a price, talking about quantity can be misleading, and U.S. production isn't necessarily cheapest," he said. "If America opted to become an energy island, our price of energy would almost certainly go up considerably."

Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, a Trump supporter, said Trump is what the nation needs after eight years of President Barack Obama's energy policies.

"Why would Obama cut a deal with Iran to lift sanctions while refusing to lift our own domestic sanctions on oil exports? He could have lifted America's 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports with the stroke of a pen," Hamm said. "Instead, he has allowed this industry ... suffer hundreds of thousands of layoffs. Hillary Clinton has made it clear she will continue Obama's war on fossil fuels — and American jobs. I'm confident that Donald Trump will save American industry and innovation from the stranglehold of burdensome regulations and allow this nation to compete on the world stage."

Calling Trump a champion for American energy, Hamm said under a Trump presidency, the oil and natural gas industry alone would create "millions of jobs, billions in annual wage increases and trillions in additional economic activity and tax revenue right here at home. He would unleash the nation's pent-up potential and allow us to once again become the economic growth engine of the world for decades and beyond and power America to make it great once again."