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Jimmy Hoffa: Approve The Keystone XL Pipeline

Despite their Democratic leanings, Teamsters are all for the Keystone XL pipeline.

International Teamsters Union President James Hoffa wrote an op-ed in the Detroit News pushing Michigan lawmakers to to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to help middle-class Americans.

“Jobs might not be in such short supply like they once were in Michigan and elsewhere,” Hoffa wrote. “But good-paying jobs still are. That’s why the Teamsters support the Keystone XL pipeline project that would allow North America to produce more of the world’s oil supply. And that’s why Michigan’s elected officials should too.”

“America needs more good-paying jobs that support middle-class families,” Hoffa added. This project supplies them. It is like a private sector economic stimulus that could fuel improvements in small towns across the Midwest.”

Keystone XL’s approval has proven to be a divisive issue for the Democratic Party, pitting environmentalists against union members who want to see more major projects being built to help create union jobs.

Unions have been quite vocal in their support for Keystone XL. Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, has repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for delaying its decision on Keystone. O’Sullivan also bashed the Senate last month when they failed to pass a bill to approve the pipeline.

“Today’s failure of the U.S. Senate to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline is a vote against all construction workers, a vote to keep good, middle-class jobs locked out of reach and a vote to continue to rely on nations that hate America for our energy,” O’Sullivan said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Even AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has said Keystone is an area where Democrats and Republicans can work together, though AFL-CIO has not explicitly endorse the pipeline’s approval.

“There are a number of economic issues and job issues that we want them to get done,” Trumka said last month, adding that Keystone XL “happens to be one of them.”

AFL-CIO and other unions have been somewhat hesitant to weigh in on Keystone as they are trying to work together more with environmental groups. For example, some unions took part in the 400,000-person “People’s Climate March” through New York City in September.

Keystone XL would bring Canadian oil sands through the U.S. to refineries along the Gulf Coast where most (if not all) of it will be refined into petroleum products like gasoline. The State Department says the project could create 42,100 jobs, including 3,900 construction jobs.

“Completing the final segment of the pipeline from Nebraska to the Canadian border would employ upwards of 2,500 Teamsters and would infuse millions of dollars into local economies,” Hoffa wrote. “That’s not just where the pipeline is being built either — it’s right here in Michigan, where suppliers could see substantial growth.”

But the project has been delayed for more than six years and President Obama has given no indication that a decision on the project is coming in the near future.

Environmentalists say Keystone XL would harm the environment from oil spills and contribute to global warming. Pipeline supporters, however, have countered these claims, pointing to the State Department’s review of the project which found it would not significantly impact the environment or the climate.

“As for the project’s environmental concerns, the environmental review has been exhaustive,” Hoffa wrote. “It will be safer than any other domestic oil pipeline system built under current code, as a result of 59 special conditions the federal pipeline safety regulators developed for the Keystone project, to which pipeline owner TransCanada voluntarily agreed.”

“But enough is enough,” Hoffa stated. “Seven years of review by 10 federal agencies, as well as numerous state and local agencies, is sufficient. Keystone has had the most exhaustive review and analysis of any infrastructure project in U.S. history.”

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