TC Energy, the Canadian company responsible for the Keystone XL pipeline, announced a deal with four unions on Wednesday for the project’s construction — defying former Vice President Joe Biden’s promise to cancel it.
The Keystone XL pipeline would run from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta across the border and into Nebraska. From there, the oil would be pumped through existing pipelines to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. The project passed environmental reviews under the Obama administration, but was stalled due to opposition from environmental groups concerned about climate. (Supporters of the pipeline noted the oil would be extracted, regardless: the alternative was export to China.)
President Donald Trump issued an executive order on his third full day in office effectively giving the green light to Keystone XL, inviting it to re-apply for permits and instructing federal agencies to move the project along rapidly.
Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, promised in May that he would stop the Keystone XL pipeline “for good” if he was elected president.
Joe Biden would rescind President Donald Trump’s permit allowing the Keystone XL oil pipeline to cross the border into the U.S., a move that would effectively kill the controversial project, his campaign told POLITICO https://t.co/fDut0PuMBx
— POLITICO (@politico) May 18, 2020
That promise was bolstered by Biden’s support for a version of the “Green New Deal” that would eliminate carbon emissions — hence fossil fuels — from U.S. energy production by 2035. A year ago, at the second Democratic presidential debate, Biden promised to “eliminate” all fossil fuels, including the use of fracking. (He has since tried to walk that back because of the importance of fracking to the battleground state of Pennsylvania.)
But TC Energy is going ahead — along with four unions: the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters.
In a press statement, TC Energy announced that the four unions had reached a project labor agreement (PLA) with the company “that will inject hundreds of millions of dollars in middle-class wages into the American economy, while ensuring this pipeline will be built by the highest-skilled and highest-trained workforce.”
The statement added:
Project construction will support the creation of 42,000 family-sustaining jobs in the U.S, including more than 10,000 high-paying construction jobs that will be filled primarily by union workers. Keystone XL pipeline construction will generate $2 billion in earnings for U.S. workers, according to the 2014 Final Environmental Impact Statement done by the U.S. State Department.
Keystone XL will create jobs and energy security in North America, by ensuring a reliable source of crude oil to the United States. Construction of Keystone XL will inject approximately $3.4 billion into the U.S. GDP. Once complete, Keystone XL will continue to contribute to the local economy, adding approximately $55 million in property taxes to local communities in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska during the first year of operation.
The announcement signaled that Biden would, if elected, struggle to fulfill a crucial campaign promise to his supporters on the left — and catches Democrats between radical environmentalists on the one hand, and labor unions on the other.
It also indicates that Biden’s positions on climate change and fossil fuels are far to the left of the organized labor union constituency that he promised Democrats he would bring to the polls, especially in the Midwest.
Biden’s opposition to Keystone XL could also frustrate his ambition to “turn Texas blue,” as the oil pipeline would serve Texas refineries.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.