President Joe Biden slashed thousands of union jobs on his first day in office due to the cancellation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline construction.
Immediately after Biden signed the executive order on Jan. 20 revoking their permit, TC Energy Corp, the company responsible for building the pipeline, announced that they would have to layoff 1,000 workers.
The pipeline was supposed to run from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, and sparked controversy for building on Native American land.
“I believe this will send a concerning signal to infrastructure developers that resonates far beyond our project and will stifle innovation for a practical transition towards sustainable energy,” President of the Keystone Pipeline project Richard Prior said in an email Wednesday, according to Reuters.
TC Energy planned for the pipeline, which has long been the subject of controversy, to provide over 10,400 American jobs and 2,800 Canadian jobs, KMGH-TV reported.
The United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters, which endorsed Biden in the 2020 election, expressed their disappointment with the decision.
“In revoking this permit, the Biden Administration has chosen to listen to the voices of fringe activists instead of union members and the American consumer on Day 1,” General Association President Mark McManus said in a statement.
“Let me be very clear: When built with union labor by the men and women of the United Association, pipelines like Keystone XL remain the safest and most efficient modes of energy transportation in the world. Sadly, the Biden Administration has now put thousands of union workers out of work. For the average American family, it means energy costs will go up and communities will no longer see the local investments that come with pipeline construction.”
American unions have a long history of supporting Democrats, but substantial union support helped President Donald Trump win key battleground states in 2016. Biden ultimately won over these same voters in 2020, as he campaigned on being a pro-working class public servant who grew up in Scranton.
Revoking the permit also created tensions with Canada, where part of the pipeline was already under construction in Alberta.
“While we welcome the President’s commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfill his election campaign promise on Keystone XL,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was “deeply disturbed” by Biden’s order.
“The United States is our most important ally & trading partner. As friends & allies, we are deeply disturbed that one of @POTUS first actions was to rescind the Presidential permit for Keystone XL Pipeline border crossing. That’s not how you treat a friend & ally,” he tweeted, in addition to a statement posted Wednesday.
Even his Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg doubled down on killing the pipeline project, hoping that more jobs will be created that align more with progressive climate change goals.
“I believe that the president’s climate vision will create more jobs on that,” Buttigieg said during his Senate confirmation hearing.
“And I think it’s going to be very important to work with him and work with Congress to make sure that we can deliver on that promise too. That on that, more good-paying union jobs will be created in the context of the climate and infrastructure work that we have before us than has been impacted by other decisions.”
Biden has only been in office for a few days and has already created tensions with unions and the United States’ closest ally. The ink is barely dry on the executive order, but it is already impacting thousands of lives.