Friction between the trade unions that build energy infrastructure and the politicians who routinely block these projects has been growing for the last decade—especially as President Obama spent the majority of his administration delaying and eventually rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Trump administration has adopted a far more supportive approach to energy infrastructure, but still faces resistance from some state governments.
These states are using—and quite arguably misusing—their authority under the Clean Water Act to stop numerous job-creating projects, especially pipelines. For example, New York recently rejected the Northeast Supply Enhancement project that sought to extend an existing natural gas pipeline into the state, and it did so by invoking section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. Eleven Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation signed a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsing the state’s decision.
In response, the President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) wrote a very strongly worded letter on behalf of his half-million members to each of the signatories. Among other things, he said, “[W]e are outraged to see yet another natural gas expansion project being used as a pawn for political gain,” and that, “Opposing natural gas and projects like this will lead to fewer middle-class jobs, higher energy prices for those who can least afford them, more environmental degradation, and a further schism between [c]ongressional Democrats and the workers who are trying to provide for their families and their future.”
LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan goes on to say that, “Since the Great Recession, LIUNA’s largest growth in work for our members has been the energy sector, much of it in the pipeline sector, predominantly because of the growth in development of the nation’s natural gas sector. … It is unfortunate that you and some of your colleagues repeatedly drone false talking points written by the environmental fringe to advance a radical agenda which doesn’t create a single job or lower energy costs.”
The letter concluded, “I am sending a copy of this letter to every member in your district so that they can be aware of this job killing effort that you helped lead.”