By Sean McGarvey, President, North America’s Building Trades Unions
Now that the Nebraska Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s ruling and cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone pipeline, there are no more excuses for not moving forward immediately with this project.
Years of environmental review by the U.S. State Department and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality undeniably prove the current route is safe and environmentally sound.
Furthermore, President Obama says his decision will based upon the impact that this project will have on global climate change. Yet, his own U.S. State Department, in its Environmental Impact Study, concluded there will be no significant impact on climate change as a result of the construction and normal operation of the pipeline.
The president needs to listen to the overwhelming support from Americans, and within his administration, to quickly approve what will be the safest pipeline in history and help bring jobs and economic opportunity to communities all along the proposed route.
It is also worth noting the Keystone XL pipeline project will be constructed by the skilled craft professionals of North America’s Building Trades Unions; long recognized as the safest, most highly skilled workforce in the world. The project will be constructed in accordance with the strictest environmental and safety standards along with 57 additional safeguards in relation to the pipeline’s operations, maintenance, and emergencies. Equally important, the construction is subject to a Project Labor Agreement ensuring family-sustaining wage and benefit standards.
Today across the United States, there are 2.6 million miles of pipelines used to transport energy, chemical and water resources. That’s enough pipe to wrap around the Earth 100 times.
All of which begs the question: What are we waiting for?
Certainly, the men and women who would build this project are asking that question. Because as good as the American economy may seem to be to the pundits and politicians, the fact remains that the U.S. construction industry is still saddled with 8.3% unemployment, nationally. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute recently reported there is a 6:1 ratio of unemployed construction workers in America for every job opening in our industry.
There can be no more excuse for delaying this project. We need these jobs. And we need them now!