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Mr. Obama will veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation

01.15.15

JANUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Mr. Obama will veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- President Barack Obama made it clear that he will not sign legislation that would pave the way of the construction completion of the building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline on January 6th. Mr. Obama stated that he would veto the legislation should it be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In December before their annual Christmas recess, the Senate narrowly defeated legislation that would have approved the pipeline construction. The legislation needed 60 votes for approval and it received only 59. Most Democrats voted against the bill while all 45 Republicans voted in favor.

However, Senate Republicans will bring the pipeline construction legislation up for another vote during the second week of January. In November the party won enough seats in the November election to gain control. They hold a 54 to 46 majority and need 60 votes to over-ride a Presidential veto.

President Obama has not supported the XL Keystone pipeline construction, which the administration has reviewed for six years. The majority of the pipeline construction will be built with American taxpayers money. Mr. Obama stated that he wanted a State Department review of the pipeline to be completed before his would support its construction.

On January 31st, a President Obama Administration 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 at the time was considered to be one of the last steps before a up-or-down decision by Mr. Obama on the pipeline construction.

However, President Obama last spring extended his decision of whether to construct the pipeline until January 6th when made it clear he planned to veto the legislation when it reached his desk.

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 oil capacity of 830,000 barrels of oil. The lower portion of the pipeline has already been built and transports oil from Oklahoma to Texas.

The Building and Construction Trades unions support the pipeline construction because with federal money being used for its construction, the project would be built under the provisions of the David-Bacon Act, meaning better paying wages would be earned and most likely union members would be hired.

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

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 is problematic for the AFL-CIO because federation President Richard Trumka was successful in getting affiliated member unions approval to let nonunion groups to join the consortium, including the Sierra Club, a environmental organization that opposes the pipeline construction.

Terry O’Sullivan, Internationl President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Washington DC, has been critical of Mr. Obama for not supporting the pipeline construction. Mr. O’Sullivan called President Obama “gutless” in the spring of 2014 after Mr. Obama extended the decision of whether to construct the pipeline.

Presidential press secretary Josh Earnest stated on January 6th that should the legislation pass Congress, Mr. Obama will not sign it, stating the bill would undermine a pipeline review process underway by the administration.