Keystone XL has struck a deal with four leading unions to build the Alberta-to-Nebraska oil pipeline, creating a potential headache for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who has vowed to kill the project even as he woos the labor vote.
In a Wednesday announcement, TC Energy said a project labor agreement has been reached with the Laborers International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters.
“We’re proud to reach today’s agreement with TC Energy that will put UA members to work on this project, bringing safe and efficient energy to American families,” said Mark McManus, general president of the pipefitters’ union. “This project will bring good paying jobs to our members, all while keeping energy costs low and delivering a boost to local communities and their economies. We’re ready to get to work.”
The agreement adds another wrinkle to the 2020 presidential campaign on a contentious, high-profile issue that pits Mr. Biden, a staunch opponent of the pipeline, squarely against President Trump, who has championed it.
President Barack Obama blocked the Keystone XL in 2015 by rejecting a border-crossing permit, citing the impact on climate change, only to have Mr. Trump approve the $8 billion oil-sands pipeline two years later.
In May, Biden campaign policy director Stef Feldman said in a statement that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would “stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”
For Mr. Biden, Keystone XL encapsulates the political tension that comes with embracing the climate-change movement while casting himself as a champion of blue-collar workers in energy-producing states like Pennsylvania, which sits atop the massive Marcellus Shale natural-gas reservoir.
In his $2 trillion energy plan released last month, Mr. Biden said that “millions” of union jobs would be created by investing in infrastructure improvements, while the Trump campaign has said that oil-and-gas jobs “will be on the chopping block in Joe Biden’s America.”
The Keystone XL pipeline will support 42,000 U.S. jobs, including “more than 10,000 high-paying construction jobs that will be filled primarily by union workers,” said TC Energy.
“We are proud to partner with these union trades and craft workers to ensure this pipeline will be built by qualified professionals with specialized skills to the highest safety and quality standards,” said Keystone XL president Richard Prior. “We are especially proud of the new Green Jobs Training Program, which is an investment in thousands of current and future union workers.”
The $10 million program will help train union workers for jobs in the renewable-energy sector. The company also agreed to hire locals whenever possible and bring on tribal consultants to reach out to Native American workers.
The 1,210-mile Keystone XL pipeline would stretch from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to send crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline represents the fourth phase of the Keystone Pipeline System.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower-court order vacating a permit for dredging and filling wetlands, which TC Energy said “continues to delay large portions of construction on our Keystone XL project.”