President Biden’s decision to terminate the Keystone XL Pipeline had broad national impacts, including making our nation less energy secure and fostering an atmosphere of hostility towards fossil fuels. While the consequences have affected the overall economy, the cancellation of Keystone XL has had a profound and personal impact on the thousands of Americans who were hired to construct the pipeline. So as Washington celebrated the inauguration of Joe Biden, that very same day, many families in the Midwest found themselves without work and concerned about their livelihood – all because of the president’s executive order.
As we approach the two year anniversary of that decision, Fox News released an exclusive story this week to capture the raw emotions of pipeline workers who worked on KXL. Fox’s story shows that policy changes in Washington aren’t just concepts; they have real impacts on people outside the beltway. The piece highlights two workers who were impacted by the shutdown, and offers their perspective, which are abbreviated below:
Neal Crabtree, a pipeline worker affiliated with Pipeliners Local Union 798: “It did surprise us when it happened… I was upset over it. I literally cried about it. I was a foreman on one of the compressor stations. We’d been there for three weeks…And when you just spent a whole year [during the COVID-19 pandemic] not working and then we think we got this huge project that’s going to provide millions of man-hours for people in our industry and then the rug is pulled out from under you, it was devastating.”
Suzanne Walker, a pipeline welder affiliated with Pipeliners Local Union 798: “I was going to be on the Keystone XL project, but none of those jobs went. It got canceled, so I didn’t see any of that work. That was a job down the drain and there really hasn’t been much since…I know a lot of members went and have done different things now because the pipeline business — it’s just gone basically. I know there are a few jobs out there, but we’re trying to make it at home. I know a lot of people who fell on hard times.”
Overall, the pipeline would have created between 16,149 and 59,468 construction jobs that would have lasted roughly two years and would have had a positive economic impact of between $3.4-9.6 billion, according to a congressionally-mandated report issued by the Department of Energy in December.
The GAIN Coalition has continued to urge the Biden administration to reverse course and restart construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The country, and thousands of workers, would be better off with it.