By National Nurses United, 1199 SEIU Health Care Workers East, Amalgamated Transit Union, New York State Nurses Association, and National Domestic Workers Alliance - November 18, 2014
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.
We are five unions/workers organizations representing workers in nursing, health and domestic care, and public transport.
We are opposed to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. If fully constructed, it will bring dirty tar sands oil through the United States and to the global oil market at a time when we should be drawing the line against the most carbon polluting fossil fuel in order to protect public health, defend the rights of farmers, ranchers and native communities, and avoid out of control levels of global warming and climate instability.
Climate change is already wreaking havoc in areas of the world - like the Caribbean, the Philippines and Central and South America - where many of our members have families and loved ones. The present drought in California, the wildfires across the Western and Central United States, and killer storms like Katrina and Sandy are enough to demonstrate that climate change is also affecting the United States.
From the ground to the pipe to the refineries, Keystone XL's tar sands oil, with its thick, dirty, corrosive properties, poses a clear and present danger to public health. Toxic contaminants in the massive water needed for extraction are infecting clean water supplies, with towns nearby in Alberta experiencing spikes in cancer deaths, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. Huge pipeline spills near Marshall, MI and Mayflower, AR have led to respiratory ailments and other health ills. Pollutants from tar sands refineries are linked to heart and lung disease, asthma, and cancer. Federal policy should be guided by the precautionary principle and must uphold public health and safety above all else.
The Keystone XL jobs numbers claimed by the oil industry and its backers in Congress are not based on sound research. The southern leg of the pipeline has already been built, and yet the job numbers the oil industry and their political allies claim will be created by the project seem to keep on rising.
We are for jobs. There is no shortage of water and sewage pipelines that need to be fixed or replaced, bridges and tunnels that are in need of emergency repair, transportation infrastructure that needs to be renewed and developed. Many thousands of jobs could also be created in energy conservation, upgrading the grid, maintaining and expanding public transportation--jobs that can help us reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency.
Congress is not set up to be a permitting authority, and this pipeline doesn't even have an approved route. The ongoing review process should continue, and the decades-long precedent of having the Executive Branch make decisions on cross-border projects should not be overturned.