Monday, May 07, 2012

AFL-CIO President Supports Keystone Pipeline

Richard Trumka
The AFL-CIO does not have a formal position on Keystone XL pipeline, but AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is backing construction of the project. Trumka is also downplaying divisions among unions in the labor federation over the controversial project.

President Obama, who has won the AFL-CIO’s endorsement, has said more review is needed but has not taken a position on the cross-border pipeline itself.
Regarding the different positions by unions, Trumka notes:
“They are not divided on the pipeline itself; they are divided on how the pipeline is done. I think we are all unanimous by saying we should build the pipeline, but we have to do it consistent with all environmental standards, and I think we can work that out, I really do, and we are for that happening.”
The pipeline has been a thorny issue for the labor federation and harmed at least one major union's relationship with environmentalists.  Environmentalists bitterly oppose Keystone due to greenhouse gas emissions from extracting and burning oil sands, forest damage from the massive projects in Alberta, and fear of spills along the pipeline route.

Although some unions oppose the pipeline, others support it. Many unions including the Laborers’ International Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Teamsters, the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and others strongly back construction of Keystone, calling it a way to create jobs.

But the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Transport Workers Union have opposed Keystone due to environmental concerns about the oil sands and potential pipeline spills. The United Steelworkers, the United Autoworkers, the Communications Workers of America and the Service Employees International Union joined those two unions and two big green groups in a statement that backed Obama’s January decision to reject a permit for Keystone.

The White House, when rejecting a permit for the pipeline in January, said the decision was not on the “merits” of the project but instead alleged the GOP was demanding a deadline that would short-circuit review. TransCanada Corp. re-applied for a federal cross-border permit late last week.
Backers of the project say construction should be authorized and that the project should go forward even as a route to avoid ecologically sensitive regions of Nebraska is studied.  (The Hill, 5/6/2012)

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