Keystone pipeline construction saga continues

Despite an optimistic outlook from Laborers President Terry O’Sullivan – and Laborers locals on the ground in Nebraska – the saga of whether the controversial northern leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline will ever get built continues.

That’s because the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the last governmental body that must weigh in, scheduled public hearings for early August on Keystone’s revised 275-mile route through the Cornhusker State. The PSC must decide by Nov. 23 if the pipeline is an environmental threat to the underground Oglala Aquifer, source of drinking water for millions.

The continued saga gives the unions that signed a Project Labor Agreement years ago to build Keystone – including the Laborers, the Teamsters and the Operating Engineers – time to marshal more arguments that the pipeline would enhance U.S. energy security while not damaging the environment.

The official State Department report on Keystone says its construction would create several thousand  construction jobs over two years, and would not threaten the environment. Due to the PLAs, they’d be well-paid union jobs. The six unions involved say Keystone could create tens of thousands of jobs.

The August hearing also gives unions that oppose Keystone, led by National Nurses United, and their environmentalist allies more time to mobilize against it – and to argue that by carrying heavy tar sands oil from the Alberta-U.S. border through the southern segment, Keystone would increase the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

All that didn’t stop O’Sullivan and the Laborers from campaigning in early May for Keystone construction through Nebraska. Other states and the GOP federal Trump administration have approved the pipeline and its route.

O’Sullivan said 40 Laborers attended, and 20 testified, at the PSC’s preliminary hearing on Keystone, in York, Neb.  That’s after years of prior hearings, testimony and letters to the editor for it, he noted.  Laborers are “among the fiercest and most dedicated in their advocacy for the Keystone XL pipeline over the course of an extensive and highly politicized permitting and approval process,” he added.

This time, they were “again front and center in the effort to win approval,” especially in rallying local communities. Laborers at the hearing were “highlighting the importance of this critical piece of infrastructure and the trained and skilled workforce standing ready to build it,” he added. Combined, O’Sullivan said the Laborers at the PSC hearing in York outnumbered Keystone foes by a three-to-one ratio.

After taking yet another shot at former President Barack Obama for rejecting the pipeline’s permit – a rejection GOP President Donald Trump overturned — O’Sullivan said his members are “eager for this long-delayed project to become a reality. In a conversation increasingly dominated by extremism” – O’Sullivan’s reference to the environmentalists – the Laborers “have become a crucial voice for good blue-collar jobs building our infrastructure safely and responsibly.”

Source: PAI