Pipeline supporters have their say
February 5th, 2011
Lincoln, NE – Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have been calling on state lawmakers to take steps to re-route the project or stop it all together. Now, supporters of the oil pipeline want to have their say. Union workers gathered this week to ask lawmakers not to do anything that would threaten the project and cost potential jobs to the state.
About a month ago, environmental groups and other critics of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline were gathered on the Capitol steps to demand lawmakers take action to stall or stop the pipeline. Wednesday, union members gathered in downtown Lincoln to express support for the project.
Ron Kaminski is Business Manager of the AFL-CIO Local 11-40 chapter. He said if Keystone XL is built, most of the workers constructing the pipeline in Nebraska will be hired locally.
“We feel that we’re probably going to be… 80% of Nebraskans on that project. We think it’s going to be about 400 to 500 positions.”
But Kaminski said if new regulations are passed in the Unicameral, jobs and revenue for Nebraska that would come from Keystone XL could be delayed or lost. That would be bad news for Jo Adkins, a union member from Omaha. Adkins is one of about 400 workers who have gone through a union training program started five years ago just to prepare for possible jobs on Keystone and other pipeline projects.
“You know we care just as much as the environmentalists do,” she said. “We do have to disturb the land, but our motto is we want to put it back to the way it was or even better. I have grandkids and children so I want everything to be environmentally safe too, so who better to work on it than somebody who cares?”
Groups opposing the pipeline have been skeptical of job claims made about Keystone XL. Jane Kleeb of the progressive group, Bold Nebraska, said a few temporary jobs are not worth the environmental risks.
“We think America needs to rely on their own energy sources,” she said. “If we can’t stop it, we absolutely want to see it re-routed from the Sandhills and re-routed from the heart of the Ogallala Aquifer, as well as stronger safety regulations.”
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