Photo by Brett Holmes via Shutterstock

President Joe Biden’s executive order to revoke the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline project drew criticism from labor unions.

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), which championed Biden towards the end of his campaign, said Jan. 21 it is “deeply disappointed in the decision.”

“Environmental ideologies have now prevailed, and over a thousand union men and women have been terminated from employment on the project,” NABTU’s president Sean McGarvey said. 

Union votes were vital to Biden’s 2020 election victory, as union votes helped Biden win key swing states Michigan and Wisconsin.

Biden won 57% of the vote from union households nationwide whereas Trump only won 40%, according to Edison Research.

Biden, who also served as Vice President under the Obama administration, will remain consistent with Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

In Nov. 2015, Obama prevented the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project. Many saw this as a positive step in the battle against climate change.

Conversely, the subsequent Trump Administration worked to revive and expedite the approval process for the pipeline project, effectively undoing the actions of the Obama Administration.

The Biden Administration also noted the importance of transitioning to a “clean energy” based economy and that doing so would create new job opportunities. The Biden Administration noted that the Keystone XL pipeline would prohibit this transition.

According to a statement from the White House, “the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest,” according to a review conducted in 2015.  

“That analysis, in addition to concluding that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs.  

The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action.”

Though the pushback from labor unions was undoubtedly caused by the reality that jobs would be lost, the Biden Administration said they’d be creating new jobs in the energy sector.

“The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest. The United States and the world face a climate crisis… At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs,” according to the White House statement. 

In addition to revoking the Keystone XL Pipeline permit, Biden has also taken other steps in his climate change efforts such as rejoining the Paris Climate Accord after former President Donald Trump withdrew from it.

Written ByLinn Win

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