Meet the Keystone Pipeliners Deserted by Biden’s Executive Action

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Posted: Feb 05, 2021 2:00 PM
Meet the Keystone Pipeliners Deserted by Biden’s Executive Action

Source: Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File

“I knew right then that's what I wanted to do, is continue on and follow in his footsteps,” said Ron Berringer of his father’s influence on his choice to became a union pipeline steward. 

Unfortunately, a single Executive Order, Biden’s unilateral decision that the “Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest,” has brought the veteran’s decade-long career to a screeching halt.

Berringer, a 60 year-old Iowan who's traveled across seven states during his time working around pipelines, and Tyler Noel, a 33-year-old 13-year pipeline veteran based out of South Dakota, both spoke to CBS news of the abruptness with which they became unemployed and their newfound uncertainty going forward.  

The men spoke of the joy they found in the pipeline business, with Berringer referring to his work as his “bread and butter” and Noel lamenting, "It's not just a job, it's like a lifestyle."  However, their recent unemployment has brought change, with Berringer suggesting his own future is now “gloomy,” and Noel losing what he referred to as “the only thing I’ve got right now.” 

To make matters worse, Noel says he has yet to receive his stimulus check and has been unable to contact anyone in employment services, going on to frustratedly note, “I've paid beaucoup money to states by working in them. I'm entitled to unemployment."

The Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed in 2008 as an extension to the already functioning Keystone Pipeline System which runs from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, across three million miles of pipeline, to Houston, Texas. It has become a political touchstone as of late, with Obama terminating the project in 2015 over environmental and social concerns, Trump reversing that decision a year later, and Biden reversing Trump's not four years after that.  

In an internal email from the Canadian firm that holds the pipeline’s contract, the project’s president, Richard Prior, warned that the administration's decision “resonates far beyond our project and will stifle innovation for a practical transition towards sustainable energy.”

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Climate Czar John Kerry, when pressed about workers who would lose their ‘livelihood,” stressed that those workers were confused, arguing “they’ve been fed the notion that somehow dealing with climate is coming at their expense.” Kerry went on to refer to jobs in solar as a “better choice” and remarked that “the same people can do those jobs.” 

For Berringer and Noel, however, both members of their local Laborers' International Union of North America, they say “those jobs” are not likely in their future, as the overtime isn’t there and it’s not the field they’ve spent decades mastering their respective crafts within. According to them, their best hope is to find work maintaining old pipelines. That is, unless Biden’s pen strikes again.