At State House rally, labor, business groups back Keystone pipeline
CONCORD – Business and labor groups united to express support for the Keystone XL pipeline during a lunchtime rally and barbecue at the State House plaza Wednesday.
The event was sponsored by the New Hampshire Energy Forum and co-hosted by IBEW Local 430, the National Federation of Independent Business, the American Council of Engineering Companies of New Hampshire, the Teamsters Local 633, and UA Local 131.
The U.S. Senate may vote on the pipeline as soon as this week, according to reports from Washington.
Joe Casey, president of the New Hampshire Building Trades Council, said the New Hampshire construction industry has suffered 10,000 job losses since the downturn of the economy, “with virtually no relief in sight.”
“All too often the livelihoods of trained men and women are deemed temporary and all too often dismissed. We are not temporary employees,” Casey said.
“The Keystone XL project will have a significant positive impact on the rebuilding of the nation’s economy,” Casey said, including 9,000 building trades construction jobs, $2 billion in United States job earnings and adding $3.4 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
“The time has come for all Americans to compromise and begin construction of this viable project,” said Casey.
Marine veteran Paul Chevalier of Vets for Energy said the pipeline is key for national security.
“It is time that we stopped buying products from our enemies,” he said.
Chevalier also said that the jobs associated with building the pipeline “are jobs that those in the military are suited for. They work hard and they’ve got great work ethic.”
Rick Laughton of Teamsters Local 633, a statewide local representing 4,200 Teamsters, said the Keystone Pipeline “is a huge part of the industries we represent and we need to support it.”
Afterward, Laughton said he is a strong supporter of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, despite her opposition to the pipeline.
“We don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue,” Laughton said. “Are we a bit disappointed? Sure. But there are so many issues we agree with her on. She has been wonderful with us.”
Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield said volatile prices for energy have a great impact on municipal costs.
“We’re spending tens of thousands of dollars every year on electricity and fuel and oil, and projects like this that expand the energy supply will have a positive impact on municipalities and our residents,” said Merrifield.
Wade Pilgreen of Pipeline Local 798 in Oklahoma drove from his home state to speak at the rally.
Pilgreen, who has worked on 41 pipeline projects, said, “We really need to push our politicians to get this thing passed. I think we need to vote them out unless they support the working men and women of the United States of America.”
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown visited the rally at the rally to support the pipeline.
Citing “fellow union members,” Brown told reporters, “I’m here to support their effort to get union and non-union jobs. It’s a no-brainer. It’s something I’ve voted on before and will continue to support.
“To move forward with jobs – not minimum wage jobs but long-term, good-paying jobs — is very important. I would ask Senator Shaheen join with me and the other union brothers and sisters to move forward and support this project,” he said. “It has bipartisan report.”
Also at the rally were Republican U.S. House candidates Gary Lambert and Dan Innis.