The repercussions of the Obama administration’s decision to continue delaying the more than half-completed Dakota Access pipeline would extend well beyond billions in private investment dollars, tens of thousands of lost jobs, and hundreds of millions in denied annual tax revenues. At stake is the fragile nexus between state and federal regulation of the private development they govern. If Dakota Access is denied at this late stage – after having met and exceeded all applicable rules and regulations, and, after having invested huge sums of capital – it would signal an end of the rule of law under this administration.
In a new opinion piece, Jack Rafuse, a former White House energy advisor, made clear that the Obama administration’s decision to continue delaying the Dakota Access Pipeline could greatly limit future private investment in nation’s already crumbling infrastructure. According to Rafuse, a decision to deny the project after it has been largely completed would set a dangerous precedent and signal an end to the rule of law.
Private companies do not spend large amounts of time and money frivolously. They identify a need, conceive a solution, and then establish a goal for attaining it. They study. They plan. They commit to years of regulatory hearings, testimony, proceedings, and detailed reports by the company and by federal, state and local officials. Only after all those steps have been taken do the private companies commit, and with years to go before ultimate clearances are granted, do they commit.
Furthermore, Rafuse outlined the exhaustive 800-plus day review that the project underwent and the hundreds of consultations that took place between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 55 different Native American tribes.
Although Dakota Access was ultimately green-lighted by the applicable agencies of four separate states as well as the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it received those approvals only after a painstaking review process that included continuous consultation with Native American tribes, as well as the verification by three independent sources – USACE (which held 389 meetings with 55 tribes), a federal judge, and the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office (and its Chief Archaeologist, Paul Picha) – that the pipeline’s route near the protest site in North Dakota does not infringe upon any areas of cultural significance.
In addition, Rafuse notes that Dakota Access has already invested more than $1.6 billion in the pipeline and currently supports upwards of 8,000 jobs.
Click here to read Dr. Rafuse’s full piece in Real Clear Energy.