Letter To The Editor

This week, the State Department denied TransCanada’s permit to develop a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that crosses the American-Canadian border. This pipeline, know as Keystone XL, would transport crude oil and bitumen, a tarry pre-oil material mined in Canada’s tar sands, from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast. There has been much debate over the potential benefits of the pipeline with respect to jobs and America’s energy security, but significant concerns also have been raised about the safety of the project with respect to surrounding communities.

A project this big and important demands and deserves careful and reasoned deliberation. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans decided they would rather embarrass the president than work with him to create jobs. They forced a decision on the project before deliberations were complete, knowing full well that by doing so they all but assured the project’s rejection. Instead of creating jobs, they hoped only to create an election year talking point about the president’s commitment to jobs. We support the president’s refusal to play along with this cynical and arrogant political game.

The decision to deny the current permit does not prevent the potential development and deployment of TransCanada pipeline; rather it leaves the door wide open for the project to be proposed again. TransCanada already has committed to re-apply for the needed permits. Given the complexity of the issues surrounding the Keystone XL project, we agree that more time is necessary to do a proper assessment of the environmental, safety and jobs impact elements associated with it.

Our nation’s roads, bridges, highways and pipelines are critical parts of our infrastructure. In order to ensure sustainable future for American workers and our environment, we have to make sure we tap all of our capacity and ingenuity to build and repair the infrastructure. That means placing a preference on domestically sourced material in the construction of these projects. This will ensure the growth of both the American workforce and the domestic manufacturing industries. We have experienced enough missed opportunities such as the construction of a new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in California. This over-budget ($7 billion) and delayed project will be constructed using poorly made steel from a state-owned Chinese company.

American manufacturing workers cannot afford the same mistake to be made in a project as structurally significant as the TransCanada pipeline. Our union strongly believes in securing our nation’s energy future, but North American manufacturing must play a role in the development and deployment of these projects and technologies. With respect to a potential pipeline, that means making sure that as many of the component parts from the pipe to the valves and cement are made using North American parts. TransCanada, however, sourced some of the pipe for the project to India, to the dismay of our 2,000 members at U.S. Steel’s Granite City Steelworks, who were laid off due to lack of demand. To add insult to injury, the Indian pipe destined for the ConocoPhillps/TransCanada pipeline sat right outside the idled steel plant When TransCanada presents its modified proposal for a pipeline, our union looks forward to working with the administration and others to ensue that the eventual project is done in the safest and most economically beneficial way for our members and their communities.

Gary Beevers

International Vice President

United Steelworkers


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