Former KXL, DAPL Worker Shares Perspective on the Importance of Pipelines

This week, Fox Business published an op-ed by Jason Jernigan, a pipeline worker from Arkansas who lost his job when President Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. Jernigan offers a unique perspective from the labor community on how short-sighted political decisions in Washington can impact the livelihood of workers and their families. His piece notes that gas prices have risen dramatically under the Biden administration, which is partially due to the President’s hostility towards the oil and gas sector and Russia’s unprovoked invasion into Ukraine.

One way to increase the supply of oil, as Jernigan argues, is for President Biden to reconsider his shortsighted decision on Keystone XL, which would have transported nearly 1 million barrels of Canadian oil daily into the United States. He also discusses his personal involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and how he can “attest to its safety and technical standards.” The project transports hundreds of thousands of barrels from North Dakota on through Illinois, but the Biden administration is currently reviewing whether to keep it operational.

Jernigan notes the national importance of pipelines and how the DAPL specifically is popular with the American people. The piece highlights recent GAIN poll numbers showing that 86% of Americans agreed that we should continue to work towards energy independence. “North Dakotans were asked whether the DAPL plays a significant role in North Dakota’s economy, and 85% said it does and nearly the same number said DAPL should remain operational.”

President Biden should support both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, as they ensure a consistent supply of oil needed to keep our economy running, empower energy independence, and put Americans on the job. As a candidate, Joe Biden campaigned on accomplishing all of those promises, but Jernigan isn’t so sure that Biden holds the same level of commitment as President:

 “To replace energy imports from Russia, the Biden administration has turned to nations like Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Instead of calling on these countries to boost output, the U.S. should instead invest in our vast energy resources here at home. The safest and most effective way to do this is to support our nation’s great oil and gas infrastructure projects. 

Without delay, the administration should restart construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which I was due to work on last year. According to the EIA, the U.S. imported roughly 672,000 barrels of petroleum – including crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, biofuels, and refined products such as gasoline and diesel fuel – per day from Russia in 2021.

Had the Biden administration not canceled the project on Day One, the Keystone XL pipeline would be on its way to importing an additional 900,000 barrels per day, and thousands of pipeline workers like myself would still be employed.”

He concludes his piece by urging President Biden to reconsider his position on pipelines and fully embrace American energy security. No matter how long it takes, Jernigan and thousands of pipeline workers just like him are ready to work at a moment’s notice, but the Biden administration needs to let them.

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