Why the Keystone Pipeline Has Obama Drawn and Quartered
The Keystone XL pipeline has elicited both a letter of support from Democrats in the Senate and a strong protest effort in opposition.
Eleven senators in Congress addressed the Obama Administration, encouraging it to allow the construction of the pipeline that would be highly important for a number of Democratic state’s economies. Five of the eleven Democratic signatures were from senators in states that are facing a challenging midterm election. Obama’s overall supporters are on the liberal side of green energy and environmental conservation, with reduced dependence on oil for energy, but Democratic incumbents in the Senate badly needs a boost in the coming election to maintain a majority. Both significant pressures in their own right.
Some, such as Donny Williams, an environmental activist from Baltimore, are coming at the issue from a lobbying standpoint. He has been training a class in civil disobedience on “how to get arrested,” according to Bloomberg, for what could be a last effort on convincing politicians to prevent construction. “We’re trying to create as much pressure as we can on President Obama. We want to personalize this. This isn’t just the faceless masses,” said Williams in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday. Nearly 100,000 protesters are ready to face possible arrest in protests against the Keystone pipeline, a demonstration they help will aid in the prevention of carbon-heavy fuel mining.
While environmental issues are being highlighted for Congress — especially in light of the recent Intergovernmental Panel report on policy needs for Climate Change mitigation — other interests have their own concerns to look out for, namely workers eying the job market in the oil industry. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) responded to Congressional resistance to the pipeline with a letter of his own. He addressed it to the members of union in the relevant Congressional districts.
“You know better than anyone that unemployed construction workers desperately need the work that would be generated by the Keystone XL Pipeline. For thousands of LIUNA members, this isn’t just another pipeline, it’s a lifeline,” wrote O’Sullivan, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “These so-called ‘friends’ of ours are destroying good-paying work opportunities with family-supported benefits, at a time when LIUNA members are trying to put food on their tables, keep roofs over their heads, and maintain middle-class lifestyles.”
In March O’Sullivan told The Hill that coupled with the Affordable Care Act, the Laborers International Union of North America were “extremely angry” about “the fact that there is 12.8 percent unemployment in construction.”
For the moment, the president is holding off on a decision, though he told governors in February that he would make his decision “in a couple of months,” according to The Hill. Still, after that, the ultimate conclusion of the pipeline’s construction has not yet been given a deadline, and Congress will need to make its own move on the pipeline as well.
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