White House And Unions Divided On Keystone

Barb Wire

While the Senate did not pass a bill authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday night, Democrats were divided.

Just as the issue splits Democratic senators — 14 voted to approve the pipeline — it splits Democratic constituencies. Labor unions are in favor, environmentalists against.

President Obama has consistently leaned in favor of the environmentalists on Keystone over concerns of its impact on the climate.

However, many labor unions have been vocal in their support for the pipeline, seeing it as a possible job creator for their members.

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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has urged Republicans in Congress and the White House to get together and approve the pipeline.

“There are a number of economic issues and job issues that we want them to get done. That happens to be one of them. So the answer is ‘yes.’ We want to get every jobs issue that we can out and as many jobs created as we can to get the economy going,” Trumka said in response to a question about the pipeline, according to the Washington Examiner.

Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said in a statement after an Obama pipeline delay, “This is once again politics at its worst. In another gutless move, the Administration is delaying a finding on whether the pipeline is in the national interest based on months-old litigation in Nebraska regarding a state level challenge to a state process — and which has nothing to with the national interest.”

O’Sullivan continued, “It’s not the oil that’s dirty, it’s the politics. Once again, the Administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. This certainly is no example of profiles in courage. It’s clear the Administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.”

He added, “This is another low blow to the working men and women of our country for whom the Keystone XL Pipeline is a lifeline to good jobs and energy security.”

Though big labor in general has shown their support for the pipeline, some small union groups are still not convinced. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199 and the New York State Nurses Association said in a joint statement, “We are half a million nurses and healthcare workers and we declare our strong support for policies that address the dangers of climate change and prioritize public health, green jobs and renewable energy,” the statement reads.

It adds, “The pipeline would lock us into even more reliance on the use of dirty fuel, and he overwhelming evidence shows it would push us inexorably closer to catastrophe.”

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