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By Cory Bryson
Shovels are in the ground for the Dakota Access Pipeline, a long-awaited, long-delayed pipeline that will carry 450,000 barrels of crude from North Dakota daily.
In many ways, the pipeline took the place previously held by the Keystone XL as the focus of a political battle between environmental and industry groups, the latter typically including labor unions interested in creating jobs.
More and more, my union, the Laborers International Union of North American Local 563, has taken to public advocacy for the approval of pipeline and other industrial projects. In particular, we advocated strongly for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We provided an important voice to remind the public and regulators that the pipeline is not only a statistic; it’s also the source of many thousands of jobs for union and nonunion members.
Today, more than 600 of our members and another 600 union members from other trades are at work on the pipeline in North Dakota. Many will follow the pipeline project into South Dakota as well.
The pipeline is a tremendous opportunity for our members to work and earn for their families.
But these opportunities are increasingly hard to secure. Some regulators and many opposition groups fight and delay pipeline and other projects, not out of concern with the projects’ performance but out of opposing the projects’ very existence.
They attack each project’s benefits by tagging the jobs as temporary and negligible in benefit. But this view is myopic and ignores the fact that each job is one part of the decades-long careers of our workers.
These careers are not temporary. And to build the things modern society needs, regulatory leaders must work expediently and protect public safety more than special interests.
Our organization and its members are proud to be on the team building the Dakota Access Pipeline and to be part of a solution that will move product for North Dakota’s oil industry, create jobs and deliver product that modern society needs. But most of all, we are proud to be at work.
Bryson is a business agent for Local 563 of the Laborers International Union of North America.
As printed in the Grand Forks Herald on July 31, 2016.