Mark McManus, president of the Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to discuss President Trump’s infrastructure plans and recent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
Trump’s support for the pipeline projects came a day after McManus and O’Sullivan joined other union leaders at the White House for a meeting with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other top aids for a conversation on the nation’s infrastructure needs.
Speaking about Dakota Access, O’Sullivan told co-host Joe Scarborough that the project created thousands of “good middle class jobs,” including 4,500 building trades men and women.
In a separate appearance, McManus and O’Sullivan told Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” that they were “more than encouraged” by their meeting with Trump and his subsequent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
“This was a big day,” said O’Sullivan. “Less than 24 hours ago we were in the Roosevelt Room and the Oval Office — Mark, myself, and some other labor leaders — talking about these very issues and in less than 24 hours there’s five executive orders that are going to make a difference in our economy, our country, and in the lives of men and women we represent.”
LiUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan sent a letter Thursday pushing back against five senators who earlier in the day urged President Obama to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“On behalf of the 500,000 members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), I write to express my anger and disappointment with your recent opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline,” O’Sullivan wrote in the two-page letter sent to Sens. Bernie Sanders, Dianne Feinstein, Ben Cardin, Ed Markey, and Patrick Leahy.
“You are willfully sacrificing the livelihoods of more than 1,000 LIUNA members and more than 4,000 Building Trades members working on the project on the basis of misinformation and outright lies.”
O’Sullivan’s stern rebuke echoes a statement released by the MAIN Coalition in response to the latest attempt to politicize an essential energy infrastructure investment. “There is no legitimate reason, whatsoever, for the federal government to request another environmental study for the Dakota Access Pipeline – to do so is nothing more than a ploy to kill the project by unnecessary and undetermined delay,” said MAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens in a statement.
“The nation is watching this administrative decision: Will the administration respect the rule of law, the regulatory process, and the engineers who did their jobs or will the administration make a decision based on a political preference? If the decision ignores the regulatory process it will have a chilling effect on future private infrastructure development and threaten American jobs.”
Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) took to the opinion pages this past weekend to emphasize the importance of the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The narrative—published in the Illinois State Journal-Register—notes that the pipeline has been approved by all four states, but is still awaiting final signoff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
This critical energy infrastructure project has already been approved on its merits by four state regulatory boards. Each of the state agencies has indicated that the benefits of the project not only outweigh the costs, but will improve the quality of energy access to the residents of those states. These regulatory bodies reviewed hundreds of pages of testimony and comments from affected communities, including environmental and cultural experts.
The permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the last outstanding approvals. Yet rather than accept the outcome, some opponents have requested the intercession of the federal government into the review process by pressuring the Corps. They have requested this intervention despite the state reviews and the fact the Corps district office has already determined the project would not cause significant environmental harm.
Furthermore, O’Sullivan goes on to stress the exemplary qualifications of the LiUNA members working on the project, say that they are, “among the most skilled and highly trained construction crafts workers in the world.” O’Sullivan said that projects like Dakota Access represent more than just an investment in our infrastructure, but also a way of life for thousands of workers who rely on them as a source of income.
Projects like the Dakota Access are more than just pipelines — they are lifelines that will help workers practice their craft through the thousands of good, family-supporting jobs the project will create. The project is forecast to have a $5 billion positive economic impact, including nearly $200 million in payments to landowners and $1.9 billion in wages, including $303 million in wages in Illinois.
O’Sullivan concludes by reiterating his call for the Army Crops review process to remain independent and outside the sphere of influence of those second guessing the project. “It is destructive to pressure the Corps to cater to the whims of environmental elites,” he wrote. “That is not what Illinois or our country needs.”
Click here to read Terry O’Sullivan’s full opinion piece in the Illinois State Journal-Register.