Union Boss on Pipeline Making 'Temporary' Jobs: A 'Moronic' View from Administration and Politicians

By Penny Starr | June 23, 2015 | 5:27 PM EDT

LiUNA General President Terry O'Sullivan.  

(Photo: Penny Starr/CNSNews.com)


(CNSNews.com) – When asked at an American Petroleum Institute (API) event on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. about the claim that the Keystone XL Pipeline and other oil and natural gas infrastructure projects only provide temporary jobs during the construction phase, union President Terry O’Sullivan, said the claim was “moronic."

“I think it’s one of the most moronic things that I’ve heard come out of the administration and every politician,” said O’Sullivan, whose Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) represents workers in both the U.S. and Canada.

Canada has been seeking permission to build the Keystone pipeline to transport its crude oil through the Midwest and to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline would also transport American oil products.

“Obviously, they’ve never had a pair of construction boots on or ever worked on a construction project,” O’Sullivan said in reference to those who claim construction jobs are simply “temporary” jobs.

Calling his members “proud men and women,” O’Sullivan said that “temporary” is the nature of the construction industry.

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard.

(Photo: Penny Starr/CNSNews.com) 


“[The] end result is that in our business we go from one temporary job to another temporary job, and we string enough temporary jobs together and build proud structures as we do it to create a career, as a member of our union and other unions,” O’Sullivan said.

Given its international implication, the Keystone pipeline has been under review with the State Department since Canada requested a permit to construct the 1,179-mile pipeline in 2008.

In February of this year, Congress passed a bill to approve the pipeline’s construction but President Barack Obama vetoed the bill and a two-thirds majority in both chambers could not be mustered to overturn the veto.

O’Sullivan was invited to speak at the API event to mark the release of a report commissioned by the oil and natural gas trade association to analyze the pros and cons of pro-development energy policies.  These include access to federal lands and lifting the ban on the export of crude oil, as opposed to regulatory restraints being considered by the federal government. Those proposed regulations include hydraulic fracturing and ozone rules to regulating refinery emissions and setting renewable fuel standards.

The API study found that pro-development energy policies could create 2.3 million U.S. jobs by 2035 and add as much as $443 billion per year to the economy over that same time period.

Regulatory restraints could mean the loss of 830,000 jobs over the next 20 years and result in a $133-billion loss to the U.S. economy, according to the report, produced for API by Wood MacKenzie.

“The study contrasts the tremendous difference between the benefits from pro-energy policies and the negative effects of policy decisions that are anti-energy,” API President and CEO Jack Gerard said during a speech at the event.

“Energy is fundamental to our society, and thanks to American innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, our nation stands among the world’s leaders in energy production,” Gerard said. “America will remain a global energy leader only if we get our nation’s energy policy right today.”

In his speech, Gerard also noted a report by Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group entitled, “America’s Unconventional Energy Opportunities.”

“Unconventional gas and oil resources are perhaps the single largest opportunity to improve the trajectory of the U.S. economy, at a time when the prospects for the average American are weaker than we have experienced in generations,” the report states. “America’s new energy abundance cannot only help restore U.S. competitiveness but can also create geopolitical advantages for America.”

“These benefits can be achieved while substantially mitigating local environmental impact and speeding up the transition to a cleaner-energy future that is both practical and affordable,” the report states.

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