Today President Biden is meeting virtually with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, who, like us, is disappointed by the president’s decision to cancel the Keystone pipeline. We wonder if Trudeau will bring up Biden’s other pipeline decision from a few days ago giving Russia a free pass to continue its Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction. Emboldening our adversaries while punishing our allies — quite the contrast.
It reminds us of an important conversation we had a few weeks ago with Peter Bardeson, business manager for the Laborers Local 620 union in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Peter has been in the union for nearly 30 years, and the Keystone pipeline was the third cross country pipeline he’d been involved in constructing. On January 20th, his laborers were told to pack up and go home. And for what? Peter’s not so sure.
“This pipeline is about more than just moving oil,” Peter told us. “It’s about energy independence, it’s about national security, it’s about jobs. Remember, this oil is going to refineries, and refineries employ many people. There’s more to it than just movin’ some oil to make gasoline, diesel, and the other byproducts of oil.”
Peter crunched the numbers on the lost work. He believes they lost roughly 60,000 labor man hours, and about $126 million in lost wages — for just the laborers alone.
But Peter and his crew are resilient — we heard the same resiliency from Peter that we heard from Patti in yesterday’s story, and Laurie a few weeks before that. Despite facing challenges born through no fault of their own, they keep going.
“We’re adapting,” Peter told us, in part by beginning training programs for solar panel farms. “We’ll find more work.”
But that doesn’t make it easier, and certainly doesn’t validate Biden’s executive order nor make it make sense. Peter believes the move was purely political, as the pipeline has been used as a “political pawn for the last three to four presidential cycles.” The environmental concerns don’t match up either.
“One of the best places for a leak to happen is in the ground — let the earth contain it. The damage of running oil by rail if there’s an accident as it passes through a small town and it derails and the tanker busts open and there’s oil everywhere — that’s way more expensive to clean up than an underground leak where the oil gets contained by the earth.”
Transporting oil by rail is also more expensive than by pipeline — so is not even producing your own oil. “Yes, some of the oil was going to be sold and exported out — but we were going to be the ones selling it, and keeping what we needed here in the United States to keep our prices down.”
We spoke with Peter before Texas experienced its energy crisis, and looking back on our conversation, he touched on something much of the conversation at the time was missing. What happens if the Biden administration and other Democrat leaders continue to force energy like oil, natural gas, and coal out?
“If we keep destroying this energy source, are we going to have more blackouts? Is this a test for the future when things go south and people are forced to shut off the electricity to their house?”
Peter has seen the pipeline theater unfold for years now. We asked him if there was ever a point he truly believed the project would be completed. He said yes, they “thought this was going to be built because of all the good it was going to do — energy independence, not having to depend on OPEC — this line’s impact was going to be big.”
But that changed on January 20th, and while Peter and his laborers will do what it takes to support themselves and their families, there’s no denying Joe Biden turned his back on those he promised to protect.
If we take stock of the past month and what we’ve seen coming out of this White House, what Biden said he would do and what his administration is doing are in complete contrast. Our country needs a plan that will create jobs and opportunities, not take them away. A plan to get kids to get back in the classroom, not cower to a handful of teachers unions. A plan for our country that works as hard as its citizens do.
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