Terry O'Sullivan: Muster courage to build Keystone XL

April 26, 2014 

Upon the latest exasperating delay of the Keystone XL pipeline project, our union — the Laborers' International Union of North America — suggested that the Obama administration grow a set of antlers or take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.

After all, the evidence points to federal approval of the pipeline. After nearly six years of delay, thousands of pages of research, five environmental impact statements confirming the evidence and millions of public comments, a pipeline that could put thousands of Americans to work and help ensure our nation's energy security remains stalled.

The evidence is clear: It's the politics that are tricky. And that's where courage comes in.

No one seriously believes that the administration's nearly-dark-of-night announcement on Good Friday that the pipeline would again be delayed was anything but politically motivated.

For the record, our union was among those that twice supported the Obama-Biden ticket, and we continue to support many of the president's initiatives. But that does not negate our right and obligation to speak out when, because of politics, the administration fails to stand up for working people and the men and women we represent.

It's not the one-person, one-vote politics that underpins the administration's actions on Keystone. Public opinion surveys have consistently found strong majority support for the project, while not a single poll has shown majority opposition.

Decades ago, in less than one-fourth of the time that the Obama administration has been delaying Keystone, Americans managed to build the Empire State Building. By the time Keystone is built — we're not giving up — we will have spent nearly as much time studying it as it took to build the Transcontinental Railroad.

If this foretells the future of U.S. energy security, we are in more trouble than even the Keystone debacle portends. A little courage from the administration would go a long way.

Terry O'Sullivan is general president of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA). He wrote this opinion for The Washington Post.

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