Union leaders warn Obama White House of electoral consequences if delay continues or project is denied
By the LABOR TRIBUNE
and PAI UNION NEWS SERVICE
Jefferson City, MO – The House of Representatives voted 134-12 this month to adopt a resolution sponsored by state Rep. Keith English (D-Florissant) urging the Obama Administration to approve the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.
The AFL-CIO Building Trades Department, the Operating Engineers, the Laborers and the Electrical Workers have joined a bipartisan coalition to push President Barack Obama to approve construction of the northern segment of the pipeline as quickly as possible.
THOUSANDS OF JOBS
The southern segment, which runs from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast, opened for business on Jan. 22.
Construction of the northern segment, from the Montana-Canada border through the Dakotas, Nebraska to Guthrie, OK, would create thousands of construction jobs.
Part of the existing Keystone Pipeline already runs through part of Missouri. House Concurrent Resolution 4 states that the approval of Keystone XL will help establish North American energy independence, create jobs for American workers and improve the state and national economies.
“Keystone is not just a pipeline; it is a lifeline for working men and women and our nation’s energy security,” English said.
Keystone would carry 830,000 barrels of heavy oil daily from the Canada-Montana border to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The oil, from Albertan tar sands, is a sore point for environmental groups.
But the State Department, the lead agency on Keystone, issued a final environmental impact statement on Jan. 31 saying there would be little change.
NIXON JOINS PUSH FOR APPROVAL
The House’s approval of HCR 4 comes one day after Gov. Jay Nixon wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressing his administration’s support for the Keystone XL project. HCR 4 now advances to the Senate.
Joining other Midwestern governors who are urging President Obama to approve the pipeline, Nixon cited energy independence and economic growth as reasons to support the pipeline's construction. The State Department is taking comments on the project before making a recommendation to Obama on whether to approve it.
Nixon said the project would promote energy independence in an "environmentally responsible way."
Union leaders, led by the Building Trades, Laborers and Operating Engineers have warned of electoral consequences if the delay continues or the pipeline is denied.
“The White House needs to worry about November” if Obama continues to dither on approving the northern Keystone segment, said North American Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey.
“Our members are not going to stand idly by while people take food off their table” for political reasons, said Laborers President Terry O'Sullivan. Keystone “is a jobs bill, as well as an energy independence bill, as well as a national security bill.”
Keystone’s sponsor, TransCanada, and several unions, including the Teamsters, the Laborers and the Operating Engineers, signed a project labor agreement years ago for all of Keystone.
The northern segment would transport more than 800,000 barrels of heavy oil daily from the Albertan tar sands and from oil fields in Montana to Guthrie. Obama needs make a decision on the pipeline because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border.
The union leaders, including McGarvey, O'Sullivan and James Callahan of the Operating Engineers, said at a March 11 press conference that five environmental impact statements from the U.S. State Department had shown no significant impact from Keystone – except for its positive impact on jobs.
They calculate Keystone's construction would produce up to 20,000 construction jobs and 118,000 spinoff jobs.