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Some building trade unions critical of pipeline postponement


MAY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Some building trade unions critical of pipeline postponement


REGION, April 24th- President Obama has extended the decision of whether to construct the Keystone XL pipeline project, that would carry oil from Canada throughout the heart of the United States midwest to refineries in Texas indefinitely, that would likely postpone the building of it until after the November mid-term elections.

The Building and Construction Trades unions support the construction of the pipeline because most of the work will be done with their members. The pipeline will mostly be built with federal money which would put the project under the Davis-Bacon law, meaning union wages would be paid to the construction workers.

On January 31st a President Obama adminstration analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline stated it wouldn’t likely alter the amount of oil removed from the Canadian oil sands, suggesting it would have little impact on any future climate change.

The report was considered to be one of the last steps before a up-or-down decision by President Obama on the pipeline construction.

But, on April 18th the Obama Administration announced its review of the Keystone XL pipeline would be entended saying as the main reason that the court decision on February 19th by Nebraska judge must first be litigated. An Nebraska judge ruled to overturn a state law that will leave the state Public Service Commission, a board the regulates natural gas lines, with the decision to construct the pipeline through Nebraska.

While construction unions and business leaders support the development of the pipeline, most environmental groups and ranchers in the region oppose it.

The proposed pipeline would be 1,179 miles long, 329 miles in Canada, and 850 miles in the United States. The pipeline would cross the United States border in Montana and travel through the midwest to Texas. It will be 36 inches in diameter, with a total daily capacity of 830,000 barrels of oil.

The majority of the labor organizations that represent workers employed within the building trades are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC.

The support of the building trades unions of the pipeline creates a problem for the AFL-CIO because federation President Richard Trumka was successful in getting the affiliated member unions approval to let non-union groups to join the consortium. Groups like the environmentral group the Sierra Club are now involved with the AFL-CIO. However, in the case of the pipeline, environmental group opposes the pipeline that the building trade labor unions support.

Meanwhile, Terry O’Sullivan, President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Washington, DC, called the Obama Admistration announement “gutless”.