The Billings Gazette today published an opinion piece from Jason Jernigan, a pipeline worker who was supposed to be working on the Keystone XL Pipeline right now. He notes he comes from a family of pipeline workers and has worked on hundreds of pipeline projects across the country including the Dakota Access Pipeline, Millennial Pipeline, Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, building a good-paying career for himself to support his family.
But with President Biden’s decision to cancel an essential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in the White House, Jernigan, and thousands of other pipeline workers, have to start over. The Biden Administration has vowed to help these folks, but Jernigan isn’t so sure:
As John Kerry stood up in the briefing room, he promised we would all be placed in new jobs as solar or wind technicians. I figured it was just a pipe dream. And, so far, I have been proven right. No one from the Biden administration has reached out to me, or anyone in Pipeliners Union 798 to offer us a new job, or give guidance on how we can train for one.
I was earning $53 an hour, a wage I’ve worked my entire life to reach. After researching solar power jobs, I found on average they are paid $17 an hour. That’s a $35 an hour pay cut. They are not good paying, as Kerry promised, but sadly many of us do not have a choice.
Jernigan calls on President Biden to reconsider his shortsighted decision on Keystone XL. Despite campaigning on creating jobs, he killed more than 11,000 on Day One. And while the Administration is claims to be focused on climate change and protecting the environment, blocking the construction of safe energy infrastructure like KXL runs the risk of contributing to potential environmental damages through riskier methods of transport like truck and train.