Bowing to Partisan Politics Not the Right Way to Proceed, says Union
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard expressed support for the Administration's decision to challenge partisan politics and not bow to Republican pressure to prematurely approve TransCanada's permit to develop a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline. The Keystone XL Pipeline would transport crude oil and bitumen from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.
"The Administration made the right decision to ensure that a project of this scale is done in a way that is good for both jobs and the environment," said Gerard. "The White House is facing forces in Congress that have decided to use this project as a litmus test for their commitment to jobs, at the same time as they have blocked the door to every one of the Administration's job proposals, but the fact is more time is needed to ensure that this project will have the economic and environmental benefits claimed by the developer."
Proponents of the pipeline estimate that the project will create 13,000 construction jobs, 7,000 manufacturing jobs and allow the U.S. to supply our oil needs with Canada, a long-standing ally instead of unstable nations.
"While the jobs projections are promising, more needs to be done to ensure that North American companies and workers will benefit," said Gerard. "We've seen too many instances where key elements of our nation's infrastructure were outsourced to foreign producers – such as the $7 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project that is being built using questionable steel from a state-owned Chinese company.
"That project is a slap in the face to American manufacturing workers at a time when unemployment is still high and U.S. factories are still closing. We have to make sure that if there is going to be a TransCanada pipeline, manufacturing workers will benefit by using as much North American material as possible in its construction."
The USW says that the State Department's decision to deny the current permit does not prevent the potential development and deployment of a TransCanada pipeline as the door remains open for the project to be proposed again. In fact, TransCanada, the lead company on the pipeline project, already has said it intends to re-apply for the needed permits.
"When dealing with our nation's infrastructure, we have to make sure that we tap all of our capacity and ingenuity to build and repair it," said Gerard. "That means making sure that as many of the component parts - from the pipe to the valves and cement - are made using North American materials."
Much to the dismay of our idled members at U.S. Steel's Granite City Steel facility, in 2009 TransCanada sourced most of the pipe from India for the initial stages. At that time, over 2,000 Steelworkers were laid off for lack of orders. To add insult to injury, the Indian pipe destined for the ConocoPhillips/TransCanada pipeline sat right outside the idled steel plant.
"Ensuring a domestic supply chain is our only chance to grow both the American workforce and our critical manufacturing sector," said Gerard. "When TransCanada presents its new proposal for a pipeline, the USW looks forward to working with the Administration and others to ensure that the eventual project is done in the safest and most economically beneficial way for our members and their communities," said Gerard.
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org/.