Doug Burgum, the multi-millionaire businessman from Fargo who is the Republican candidate for Governor of North Dakota, says the Obama administration blocking the Dakota Access pipeline could have economic implications far beyond the energy industry.
He says the move could spark a national recession.
“The joint letter between the Department of Justice, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of the Interior coming five minutes after the judge ruled essentially on behalf of the pipeline and on the behalf of due process which was completed…was unprecedented,” Burgum told me in an interview on my radio show last week (audio below).
“The idea that the Obama administration could come in after the fact and say ‘hey we’re changing the rules after the game has been played’, I’m positive it has and is having a chilling effect on anybody in the United States that’s thinking about making a capital allocation commitment,” he continued. “Not just in pipelines. This could be in agriculture. It could be in pharma. It could be in technology. It could be in any infrastructure you’re planning on building and you think you have all the permits, you do have all the permits, the judge rules you’ve done everything right, and then you get an administrative action that says no you can’t proceed.”
“This is a thing that someone might look back in two or three years and go this…triggered a recession in the United States because this is the thing that caused the private sector to say we’re not sure we can make investments in private infrastructure,” Burgum said.
That’s a solid point.
High taxes and bureaucratic red tape can, and often are, burdens to economic development. But they at the very least have the benefit of being rules everybody knows they have to play by. They’re rules that can be accounted for by those thinking about making an investment in a venture.
But how, exactly, does one plan for the administrative capriciousness? How can those thinking about allocation billions of dollars worth of capital plan for the President of the United States just inventing new hurdles for a given venture to get over?
You can’t. Which is why, as bad as high taxes and thickets of bureaucracy are, what’s even worse is a politician moving the goal posts.
What’s ironic is that for all the griping we hear from the left about big money in politics, it’s this exact sort of departure from the rule of law which prompts deep-pocketed interests to pour money into electing politicians who will place the goal posts where they want them placed.
Here’s the full audio of my interview with Burgum: