AFL–CIO’s Trumka Criticizes Biden for Canceling Keystone XL Pipeline

February 8, 2021 Updated: February 8, 2021

The head of the U.S.’s largest federation of labor unions has criticized President Joe Biden’s move to revoke the Keystone XL Pipeline’s permit last month, which affected tens of thousands of jobs.

“I wish [Biden] hadn’t done that on the first day,” AFL–CIO President Richard Trumka said of the permit revocation.

He told “Axios on HBO” that he believes it would be a mistake to halt the pipeline’s construction because it would eliminate jobs. Estimates say that the move to scrap construction would directly eliminate 11,000 jobs and could affect another 60,000.

“It did and will cost us jobs in the process,” Trumka said. “I wish he had paired that more carefully with the thing that he did second by saying, ‘Here’s where we’re creating jobs. We can do mine reclamation. We can fix leaks. We can fix seeps and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in doing all of that stuff.’”

When asked about whether he believes Biden will view the move as a mistake, Trumka stated: “I think so, yes.”

He added that he doesn’t know whether Biden will cancel additional pipelines. If that happens, he hopes “it will be paired with job creation that will be greater than the number of jobs lost.”

Biden’s action was part of a series of executive orders on his first day in office on Jan. 20 that affects “permits signed over the past 4 years that do not serve the U.S. national interest, including revoking the Presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL pipeline.” The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Trumka also made references to previous comments from Democratic officials that laid-off workers should “learn to code.”

“I said, ‘Where are the computer programmer jobs at?'” Trumka said in the interview. “‘Uh, they’re in, uh, Oklahoma, and they’re in Vegas and they’re here.’ And I said, ‘So, in other words, what we’re going to be is unemployed miners and unemployed computer programmers as well.'”

But Trumka, who has frequently praised Biden, remained hopeful about the president’s plans for mine reclamation and cleanup projects that would create new jobs where workers are laid off.

“[Biden] also promised to create jobs, good union jobs, and be the best union president we ever had, and I believe he’ll do that as well,” he said. “If you destroy 100 jobs in Greene County, Pennsylvania, where I grew up, and you create 100 jobs in California, it doesn’t do those 100 families much good.”

On Feb. 4, the Senate backed the Keystone XL Pipeline, with two Democrats breaking with their party to join Republicans to vote on a symbolic GOP amendment in favor of the project.

“I’m glad to see my amendment in support of the Keystone XL pipeline pass,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) wrote on Twitter. “To the Senate Democrats who voted yes: your support can’t stop here.”