Unions Show Pipeline Support At Labor Day Parade

Some unions showed their support for TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline during Omaha's Labor Day parade on Monday.

Nebraska governor Dave Heineman, who also marched in the parade, has made it clear that he wants a different route for the pipeline. But some labor leaders say the governor's request to move the route could cost thousands of jobs.

The Laborers International Union Local 1140 represents the workers who would build the pipeline. Robert Jones, vice president of TransCanada, walked the parade with the laborers.

"These qualified trained workers can do it safely," said Jones. "We can build a pipeline as safe as any pipeline that's ever been built. And there's over 22,000 miles of pipelines in Nebraska."

If approved, TransCanada would build the oil pipeline across the Sand Hills of Nebraska, connecting Canadian oil sands with refineries in the Gulf.

But last week Governor Heineman formally asked the President and Secretary of State to pick a different route for the pipeline.

"It goes over the Ogallala Aquifer," said Heineman. "And we don't want to risk damage to our water supply. So if the route would be changed, I'd be very, very supportive of the pipeline. In fact, if it went along our eastern border similar to the pipeline we have right now, everything would be great."

But Robert Jones says the governor is mistaken. "We're going to do everything we can to prevent a leak," said Jones. "But if one happens, it's not going to impact the aquifer. It's not going to impact people's drinking water. Our number one priority is the preservation of Nebraska's drinking water."

The governor isn't backing down.

"I'm for jobs. I'm for the pipeline. You need a different route," Heineman said.

The project across Nebraska would take about two years to complete. But work can't begin until a permit is issued by the U.S. State Department. A decision on the permit is expected by the end of the year.


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