Unions raise heat on Senate to approve Keystone XL

WASHINGTON — Labor unions are beseeching senators to pass legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline by circumventing a government review process that threatens to stretch into 2015.

In a letter to senators today, five unions, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute say the bill is essential to free the pipeline from “political limbo.”

“After nearly six years of countless polls and five exhaustive federal reviews stating the pipeline is safe to build and will create thousands of jobs, we have unfortunately seen political rhetoric and gamesmanship take precedence over policy and leadership,” the groups say.

The letter comes as conservationists send their own entreaty to Hillary Clinton, asking the former Secretary of State to join their crusade against Keystone XL. It also is delivered to Capitol Hill shortly after a Senate stalemate on an energy efficiency bill also killed a plan to bring the pro-Keystone legislation to a vote.

The State Department last month indefinitely delayed a final assessment of whether the proposed border-crossing pipeline is in the national interest, so a legal battle could play out in Nebraska.

But API, NAM and the labor unions say there’s no time to wait. The delay has “once again jeopardized the ability of our construction workers to remain in the middle class by reducing opportunities for well-paying jobs,” the groups said. “We need our leaders to lead, put partisan politics aside and stand up for the will of the people.”

Divided: Unions split on pipeline plans

Unions represented on the letter include the Laborers’ International Union of North America; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; North America’s Building Trades Unions; the International Union of Operating Engineers; and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada.

KXL Letter to Senate Labor_industry 5-21-14

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About The Author

Jennifer A. Dlouhy covers energy policy, politics and other issues for The Houston Chronicle and other Hearst Newspapers from Washington, D.C. Previously, she reported on legal affairs for Congressional Quarterly. She also has worked at The Beaumont Enterprise, The San Antonio Express-News and other newspapers. Jennifer enjoys cooking, gardening and hiking. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and toddler son.