Jobs might not be in such short supply like they once were in Michigan and elsewhere. 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.
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. That’s not just where the pipeline is being built either — it’s right here in Michigan, where suppliers could see substantial growth.
How’s that possible? Because a project of this magnitude will require thousands of pieces of equipment like American-made vehicles to be purchased, and those vehicles will need to be kept up with new parts. Similar projects have resulted in automotive companies building facilities to service vehicles. There is no reason to think that wouldn’t happen here as well.
For communities closer to the construction of the pipeline, workers living nearby will add handsomely to their local tax bases. Rent, food and the everyday living expenses will pump dollars into the wallets of local residents. Infrastructure improvements will also need to be made as part of the project to shore up roads and improve wetland areas.
As it stands, the southern portion of the pipeline has already been completed and produced millions of hours of work and positive economic benefits for the local communities in which it was constructed. The project is a shot in the arm to many rural towns that need it the most.
In total, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would contribute approximately $3.4 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. It would support a combined total of 42,100 jobs and approximately $2 billion in earnings nationwide.
As for the project’s environmental concerns, the environmental review has been exhaustive. 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.
It is understandable that many elected officials have wanted to move forward with care on the Keystone XL pipeline. But enough is enough. 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.
There are even more positives, as the pipeline would allow greater oil security for North America and make us rely less on other oil-rich parts of the world, where conflict continues to reign. That shouldn’t be discounted.
America needs more good-paying jobs that support middle-class families. This project supplies them. It is like a private sector economic stimulus that could fuel improvements in small towns across the Midwest. But it needs lawmakers like incoming Sen. Gary Peters and Sen. Debbie Stabenow to take a brave stand for hardworking people in Michigan. Getting the U.S. back on track is worth it.
James P. Hoffa is general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.