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United Association Encourages Public Support for Keystone XL Project

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- As debate resurfaces over the Keystone XL Pipeline, the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters ("UA")* urges broad public support for this project as an essential source of safe energy and critically needed U.S. jobs. As a member of the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups and labor unions, the UA is committed to environmentally sound energy solutions. Not only is Keystone designed to exceed the highest environmental and engineering standards in the industry, the project will be built by workers who are trained to the highest skill and safety standards in the world.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121119/CG16535)

Now that the primary issue of contention has been addressed and the line has been rerouted so that it no longer runs through the Nebraska Sandhills aquifer, there is no reason to delay.

UA General President William P. Hite explained the critical need for Keystone and how it will serve as a safe, secure source of American energy. He noted the following:

More than ever, the United States needs energy security. Americans need heat for their houses and gas to get to work every day. Although we are making strides in developing alternative sources of energy, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports the U.S. will be dependent on oil for many decades to come. It is critical that we secure a reliable, long-term supply of oil. Currently, the U.S. relies on foreign oil— much of it from the Middle East—to support our energy needs. Recent history underscores the difficulty of relying on politically unstable regions as dependable oil sources. The Keystone XL Pipeline guarantees a steady supply of oil from Canada, one of our most steadfast allies.

Pipelines are also the safest and most environmentally conscious method of transporting petroleum products. The U.S. State Department, after the most exhaustive review of any pipeline in recent history, issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement finding that the Keystone pipeline would have "no significant impact" on the environment. Moreover, TransCanada has already committed to 57 additional safety measures beyond what is required by law. The Keystone Pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever constructed in North America. Workers will build this pipeline using 36-inch, specially-constituted steel piping that is resistant to puncture, coated with a corrosion-resistant shell, and buried deeper underground than most existing pipelines. Furthermore, TransCanada is committed to using remote electronic monitoring to assess the pipeline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If the Keystone project is not built, the most likely scenario is that a pipeline will be built from the oil sands project in Alberta to a port on the west coast of Canada where the oil will be shipped to China. From a global environmental perspective, it would be far better for oil from Canada's oil sands to be refined in the U.S., rather than in China, a nation with almost non-existent environmental laws. Moreover, this is North American oil that should be used to benefit families in the U.S. and Canada.  If the oil goes to China, the U.S. will find itself even more dependent on unfriendly competitor nations and politically unstable regions of the world for its energy supply.

Keystone will also be an asset for the U.S. economy, as it will generate hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in industries where workers have been struggling. The Keystone Pipe Line will also be a job opportunity for service men and women returning to civilian life. The United Association has been providing specialized training on military bases around the country to equip these young men and women with the skills needed to complete the Keystone project and other vital energy projects in North America. The UA's VIP Program (Veterans In Piping) has been recognized as a premier program for providing training (including training specifically on pipeline work) and employment opportunities for veterans.  The UA is currently providing training on military bases so that veterans can transition directly to skilled positions in the construction industry. Yet, despite this evidence, some opponents of this project are attempting to create a narrative that it will have minimal effect on jobs. As one of the leading unions whose members will be employed on this project, we reject this assertion and attest to the thousands of workers who will no longer need unemployment benefits and will have access to vital health insurance for their families because of this single project.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently estimated construction unemployment at over 11 percent. Like all jobless workers, unemployed construction workers stand to lose their homes, their livelihood, and the hope of building a better life for their families. According to an independent economic study by the Perryman Group, the Keystone project will create approximately 13,000 good-paying jobs in the ailing construction industry. Keystone will also generate 7,000 manufacturing jobs and 118,000 additional jobs in various sectors related to pipeline construction.

General President Hite also stressed that the current debate over the Keystone pipeline misses the mark because the real discussion should be focused on the thousands of miles of aging pipelines that are in desperate need of repair or replacement. Many of these are 30 to 40 years old—or older. "We must place the discussion where it needs be and that is on these aging pipes that pose a real safety threat to the environment and public safety. This is the issue that should be the focus of national debate. We need to be developing a long term plan to address what amounts to a crisis, rather than focusing on a critically-needed pipeline in Keystone that would be a model in terms of environmental safety."

*Founded in 1889, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, AFL-CIO, is a multi-craft union whose members are engaged in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems. There are approximately 370,000 highly-skilled UA members belonging to more than 300 local unions across North America. In addition, the UA is affiliated with the CEPU, the Australian union representing workers in the piping industry.

Media Contact: Rick Terven United Association, 410-269-2000, [email protected]

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