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.
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.
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