A Keystone XL worker who was laid off after Joe Biden cancelled the $9billion oil pipeline on his first day in office has warned the president that his decision ‘is going to hurt a lot of people, a lot of families, a lot of communities’.
While Biden’s chosen transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg says the White House is ‘eager’ for Keystone workers to continue in ‘good-paying union jobs… even if they might be different ones’, Crabtree said it was ‘not that easy’ to start over.
‘This is not the time to be making political statements… we need to be finding ways to put more Americans back to work, not the other way around,’ he said.
‘I’m in the process of trying to live the American dream right now. I’m building a house – and the bank may own it before I ever get a change to live in it.’
Executive order: President Biden revoked the federal permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office, fulfilling a campaign pledge
Neal Crabtree, a welding foreman from Arkansas, said he was told to pack up his things within two days of Biden’s order
Crabtree said there were people in his industry who ‘haven’t worked in months, and in some cases years’ with construction work severely affected by the pandemic.
‘To have a project of this magnitude cancelled, it’s going to hurt a lot of people, a lot of families, a lot of communities,’ he said.
‘I was working in Nebraska building a pump station, but as soon as the new administration came in, on day one, they decided they want to put 11,000 people out of work.’
While only 1,000 current jobs are being eliminated as a result of Biden’s move, the company had said it planned to employ more than 11,000 Americans in 2021.
After Biden fulfilled a campaign pledge by signing the order last Wednesday, workers were told on Thursday afternoon that the project would go no further, Crabtree said.
‘We took a couple of days packing our stuff up and we actually got laid off Friday, and I’ll be taking my unemployed self back to Arkansas,’ he said.
Fox played a clip of Buttigieg saying during his confirmation hearing that Biden’s climate change plans would ‘create more good-paying union jobs’.
Republican senator Ted Cruz asked Buttigieg: ‘So, for those workers, the answer is somebody else will get a job?’.
Buttigieg replied: ‘The answer is that we are very eager to see those workers continue to be employed in good-paying union jobs, even if they might be different ones’.
Responding to the clip, Crabtree said: ‘It’s not that easy, you know what I mean? I don’t consider this a job, I consider it a career.
‘You spend a lifetime fine-tuning your skills and advancing yourself, and you go start another job, you’re starting at the bottom and trying to work your way up.
‘We’re not talking about men and women that are just out of high school just starting out in life, we’re talking about people that have mortgage payments, kids to feed.
‘I doubt these politicians would like it someone told them to go start over and find a different job.’
Piping which was due to be used for Keystone XL – blocked by Barack Obama in 2015, approved by Donald Trump in 2017 and now blocked again by Biden- sits in a storage yard in Oklahoma
Biden’s nominee for transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg (pictured), told a Senate hearing that the new administration wanted Keystone workers to continue in good union jobs
Crabtree said he did not understand how the pipeline industry had become the ‘villain’, saying it was safer than transporting oil by other means.
Biden had promised to revoke the federal permit for the pipeline, which was granted by Donald Trump in 2017 after previously being denied by Barack Obama in 2015.
His decision was also met with disappointment in Canada, where construction of the $9billion pipeline was already well underway.
Alberta-based TC Energy Corp said the move to cancel the pipeline first approved by Canadian regulators in 2010 would mean thousands of lost jobs.
While Ottawa has always supported the project, including current Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, it has long been opposed by environmentalists.
‘While we welcome the president’s commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfill his election campaign promise on Keystone XL,’ Trudeau said last week.
The 1,210-mile pipeline was to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day from Alberta to Nebraska and then through an existing system to refineries in Texas.
Work to increase the capacity of two other Canadian export pipelines, the government-owned Trans Mountain and Enbridge’s Line 3, is proceeding with fewer remaining hurdles.