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Environmental Groups, Unions Support President's Decision on Keystone XL

Following is a statement by the Natural Resources Defense Council, CWA, SEIU, UAW, Transport Workers Union, Sierra Club, United Steelworkers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union.

Washington, D.C. -- The Keystone XL Pipeline is a complex project which deserved the careful consideration regarding its environmental and economic impacts that the Obama Administration planned to provide.

In a cynical move, the House Republican leadership called for a rapid decision on the pipeline in exchange for agreeing to keep the payroll tax cut in place.  The payroll tax cut enacted last year has been an important part of efforts to turn around our struggling economy.  While the House Republicans wrapped job creation rhetoric around their pipeline demands, they have rejected numerous opportunities to support programs creating good U.S. jobs.  Here are a few of the jobs initiatives proposed by the Obama administration that Republican members of Congress have rejected:

  • The House initially voted against again extending Unemployment Insurance benefits, as well as against the measure to continue the cut in payroll taxes. If the House action had held, the economy would have lost 1.5 million jobs.
  • The Republicans are blocking any consideration of the Restore the American Dream Act which would create/save 2.3 million jobs in 2012 and 3.1 million jobs in 2013 without offering any alternative that would lead to direct job creation.
  • The Republicans opposed the extension of the Highway Trust Fund which would create 100,000s of jobs and provide for critical infrastructure repair. 
  • The House Republicans allowed the funding for crucial modernization projects for our airline infrastructure to expire, at the expense of tens of thousands of jobs, to pursue a political agenda to hold down wages and block democratic elections in the airline industry, the goal of one corporation.
  • House Republicans rejected Obama administration initiatives to fund jobs for teachers, firefighters and police, despite strong community support for more responders.

A project this far-reaching deserved better than the “politics as usual” strategy of a do-nothing Republican Congress.  Their job blackmail agenda is simply wedge politics. Addressing global climate change, establishing sustainable and secure energy sources, and creating and retaining safe and family-supportive jobs are keys to a positive future for our children and grandchildren.   President Obama has acted wisely.

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