Labor: Keystone XL is Jobs and Economic Game Changer

Labor: Keystone XL is Jobs and Economic Game Changer

Unions Representing 2.6 Million Workers Urge U.S. State Department to Approve Permit for Keystone XL Pipeline

Today, the General Presidents of four international unions representing a total of 2.6 million working men and women sent a joint letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the State Department to approve a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline project.  Keystone XL is a $7 billion privately funded project that is expected to stimulate $20 billion in new spending for the U.S. economy, spur the creation of 118,000 jobs and generate more $585 million in state and local taxes for the states along the pipeline route. Signing the joint letter to Secretary Clinton are United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the U.S. & Canada General President William P. Hite, International Union of Operating Engineers General President Vincent J. Giblin, Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terence M. O’Sullivan and International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa.

Noting the game changing economic benefits of the Keystone XL project, the four union presidents called on Secretary Clinton “to approve a Presidential Permit for Keystone XL so that the American worker can get back to the task of strengthening their families and the communities they live in.”  The union presidents further noted that “[e]ach week that goes by in the State Department’s permitting process of the Keystone XL, a process that has gone on for more than two years, is lost ground for thousands of workers who are sitting on the sidelines of our ailing national economy.”

Today, despite the Federal Recovery Act and the private sector creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, nearly one in five construction workers are still unemployed and needs a job. All four of the International Unions have executed a project labor agreement to provide the Keystone XL project with a capable, well-trained and ready workforce in the United States in order to construct the privately funded Keystone XL Pipeline.  Project Labor Agreements were first used on the big public works projects of the 1930s including the Grand Coulee Dam, Hoover Dam, and Shasta Dam. Since then, scores of large projects, public and private, have been built across the nation using Project Labor Agreements.

The Keystone XL project is a privately funded, planned 1,959-mile, 36-inch crude oil pipeline stretching from Hardisty, Alberta and moving southeast through Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

It will link up with a portion of the Keystone Pipeline that will be built through Kansas to Cushing, Oklahoma and facilitate take away capacity from U.S. hubs located on the pipeline.  The pipeline will then continue on through Oklahoma to a delivery point near existing terminals in Nederland, Texas to serve the Port Arthur, Texas marketplace.

Full text of the joint letter:

October 22, 2010

Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton 
Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We respectfully request that the State Department complete its environmental assessment of the impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline so that the National Determination review period might commence and a Presidential Permit might be approved. Each week that goes by in the State Department’s permitting process of the Keystone XL, a process that has gone on for more than two years, is lost ground for thousands of workers who are sitting on the sidelines of our ailing national economy.

All four of our International Unions – the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Laborers’ International Union of North America – have executed a project labor agreement to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. We are committed to making Keystone XL a reality for our nation and we are prepared to begin work as soon as the Presidential Permit for the $7 billion privately funded Keystone XL pipeline is approved.

By facilitating this project, you have the power to pave a path to better days and raise the standard of living for working men and women in the construction, manufacturing and transportation industries. According to the Center for American Progress, 2.1 million construction workers are out of a job. Early this year, unemployment in the construction industry actually jumped to 25 percent. The ripple effect is bleak; segments of the manufacturing industry which produces building materials are currently operating at half their production capacity as a result of the steep declines in the construction industry. According to a recent Federal Reserve projection, the U.S. economy has been losing momentum since the end of last year.

Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline project will ignite segments of our ever weak economy. An independent review of the Keystone XL’s potential economic impact finds that during the construction period the pipeline will stimulate $20 billion in new spending for the U.S. economy, spur the creation of 118,000 jobs and generate more than $585 million in state and local taxes for the states along the pipeline route. When Keystone XL is operational, the states along the pipeline route are expected to receive an additional $5.2 billion in property taxes during the operating life of the pipeline, according to the analysis. That kind of renewed, tangible prosperity is the kind of change the American worker can believe in.

We are aware of the arguments put forward by the opponents of Keystone XL. Generally, their criticism centers on the belief that further development of Canada’s oil sands puts in jeopardy U.S. efforts aimed at capping carbon emissions and greenhouse gas. While we clearly understand that our Federal government is seeking to develop a balanced policy to address our nation’s energy and environmental needs and challenges, efforts to block Keystone XL would undermine rather than further this goal. Comprehensive energy and environmental policy should strive to address climate concerns while simultaneously ensuring adequate supplies of reliable energy and promoting energy independence and national security. Alternative energy sources are generally still in developmental stages; therefore it is likely that the U.S. consumer will remain substantially dependant on carbon fuels for the next several decades. The Keystone Project, which will greatly promote U.S. energy independence, will provide secure access to reliable energy for years to come and strengthen relations with Canada, which is one of the U.S.’s strongest, strategic allies.

Secretary Clinton, we call on you to approve a Presidential Permit for Keystone XL so that the American worker can get back to the task of strengthening their families and the communities they live in.

Sincerely,William P. Hite
General President 
United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the U.S. & Canada, AFL-CIO

Vincent J. Giblin
General President 
International Union of Operating Engineers

Terence M. O’Sullivan
General President 
Laborers’ International Union of North America

James P. Hoffa 
General President
 International Brotherhood of Teamsters

CC:     Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

Congressman Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader

Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Richard Durbin, Senate Majority Whip

Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State

James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State

Robert Hormats, State Under Secretary, Economic, Energy & Agricultural Affairs

David Goldwyn, Coordinator, International Energy, State Department

Peter Rouse, White House Chief of Staff

Thomas E. Donilon, National Security Advisor

Michael Froman, Deputy National Security Adviser, International Economic Affairs

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President

Jim Messina, White House Deputy Chief of Staff

Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Heather Zichal, Office of Energy and Climate Change

Austan Goolsbee, Chair, White House Council of Economic Advisers

Patrick Gaspard, White House Political Director

Nate Tamarin, White House Associate Political Director

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