Wisconsin Spotlight | Feb. 4, 2021
MADISON — With his signature, President Joe Biden signed a death sentence for thousands of good-paying jobs, some of them in Wisconsin.
One of Biden’s first executive orders upon taking office was to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, ending construction of the $8 billion project that would have carried 883,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Canada deep into the United States.
“Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” the executive orders states.
The administration is promising millions of new jobs will spring out of his $2 trillion plan to combat climate change and that the estimated 10,000-plus jobs lost by shutting down construction of the pipeline will be replaced by “clean jobs.”
“The most exciting thing about this is we’re not asking for sacrifice here,” Gina McCarthy, Biden’s Climate czar said during a Wednesday interview on NBC’s “TODAY Show.” McCarthy previously served as EPA chief under President Barack Obama. “The president fully understands that people are suffering now. So this all about recovering from the COVID crisis. This all about building good, clean jobs, jobs where you can get access to jobs to good pay and unions.”
But for those facing layoffs, the sacrifice is very real and the future is very uncertain.
Terry McGowan, president and business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, has publicly stated that 2,000 Wisconsin construction workers, including operators, welders and laborers were poised to work on the pipeline. The U.S. phase of construction has begun in Montana.
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) said his office knows of hundreds of workers who will lose out. He recently spoke to a pipefitter from Rock County who was on his way back from Montana after being laid off.
“I’ve spoken to Wisconsin workers who were laid off by Joe Biden on January 20th. These men and women just want to do their jobs, and President Biden’s order has put them out of work,” Steil said. He recently joined fellow Wisconsin congressmen, U.S. Reps. Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) and Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) on a tour of a Michels Corp. job site near Racine.
“The recent actions of President Joe Biden … has affected Michels, thousands of union trade members across the country, and hundreds of guys who specifically work in Wisconsin,” Josh Senk, a general manager for Michels, said at the event.
While Biden administration officials have tried to downplay the loss of employment, the builders of Keystone XL have said the project would have sustained about 11,000 jobs this year, including 8,000 union jobs. It was projected to generate $1.6 billion in wages.
Steil, Grothman and others have introduced the Keystone XL Pipeline Construction and Jobs Preservation Act authorizing the project. It would end the necessity of a presidential permit, denied by both Biden and his former boss, President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump canceled Obama’s action to allow the pipeline to be built.
“At a time when unemployment is far too high, we need to put in place policies that create jobs. I urge Speaker Pelosi to bring this bill to a vote immediately,” Steil said in a press release.