Major Labor Union Criticizes Denial of Keystone Pipeline, Placing Blame On Environmental Groups

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The denial of the Keystone XL pipeline is criticized by William P. Hite, general president of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Sprinklefitters, a major construction union in the U.S. and Canada. He charges that the denial is the result of our leaders playing politics over jobs. He notes this would have been the safest pipeline in history and failure to approve a permit is a major mistake that relies on unfounded claims by environmental groups

The White House announced today that it will deny the Presidential Permit for the proposed Keystone, XL Pipeline, stating that it could not complete the review process by the deadline recently imposed by Congress. In response, William P. Hite, general president of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Sprinklerfitters, a major construction union in the U.S. and Canad and an otherwise strong supporter of the administration, issued the following comments:

“Quit playing politics over jobs that are sorely needed in the construction industry. The decision to deny this permit is a major mistake that relies on unjustified views of various environmental groups. Years of extensive, careful planning have gone into this Project to ensure it will not only meet but greatly exceed all EPA and other environmental standards.

"In fact, Keystone is going to be the safest, most environmentally sound pipeline project ever. It will be built by the best trained pipeline workers in the world and constructed with the most advanced materials, equipment and technology known to man, with a large percentage made either in the U.S. or Canada.

"The administration has been listening to the wrong people on this issue. These are environmental alarmists who are as unrealistic about our country’s need for energy and jobs, as they are clueless about the huge negative environmental impact that will occur if we fail to build Keystone. Without Keystone, this oil will be shipped to China and other countries that have little or no environmental standards that are needed if this oil is to be safely refined and used. True environmental groups should be global environmentalists and smart enough to figure this out.

"Both parties should stop using this project as a political football. Our members and the rest of the construction industry need jobs, not political games. This is what elected officials on both sides of the aisle should be focusing on if they want to win the support of American workers.

"If environmental groups want to be concerned about pipeline safety, then why aren’t they worrying about the real problem out there—there are literally thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines across this country that are part of a decaying infrastructure that is so antiquated it poses a real threat to the environment and public safety. These pipelines need to be upgraded or replaced immediately. We have seen gas line explosions that take innocent lives, and major pipeline leaks that can harm everything from the water we drink to the precious wilderness so many Americans treasure, including millions of construction workers.

"This is an issue that business and labor, environmentalists and workers, and the White House and Congress can and should all get behind immediately. It is essential to our environment and will create thousands of critically needed jobs.

"Let’s focus on America's future and work to get Keystone back on track.”

In announcing the denial, the White House issued a statement which read, in part: "President Obama had made clear that a project of this magnitude--with high stakes for public health, the environment and our country's energy supply--needed a thorough review. But Republicans in Congress demanded an up-or-down decision in just 60 fays, cutting short a process that was already under way with an unreasonable deadline."

TransCanada, the company seeking to build the pipeline, has said it will reapply and remains committed to the project.

About the United Association: The United Association is a multi-craft union whose members are engaged in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems. There are approximately 340,000 highly skilled United Association members who belong to more than 300 individual local unions across North America. The United Association has been training qualified pipe tradesmen longer than anyone else in the industry, with premier training programs including five-year apprenticeship programs, extensive journeyman training, organized instructor training, and certification programs.

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Rick Terven
United Association
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