April 8, 2014
By Neal Tepel
St. Paul, Minnesota – On Thursday April 3rd hundreds of LIUNA members attended a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission hearing. At issue is the future of the state's pipeline system that transports oil and natural gas from Canada and North Dakota. The Public Utilities Commission discussed the status of the Certificate of Need for one of several projects that are designed to relieve congestion on the pipeline system.
Dan Olson, International Representative of Laborers International Union of America (LiUNA), said the decision to approve these improvements is an easy one. "It should be an open and shut case," he said. "A well-built pipeline is the safest way to move oil and gas." Olson said that the issue isn't about drilling oil. It is about how the oil is transported. "The oil is flowing. There is a misconception among opponents of this that if the pipelines are neglected the oil will stay in the ground. That is not the case," he said.
Laborers have helped construct pipelines in Minnesota for more than 50 years. That experience has helped union workers realize that increasing the capacity and flow of the pipelines in the state makes the most sense. "Pipeline workers are the ones getting lost in the shuffle here. Their livelihood is at stake. It's a job that pays a family-supporting wage," said Olson. "Expansion of pipelines helps save our state's infrastructure by keeping fewer trains and trucks on our rails and roads. Supporting pipeline use is just one way our membership is committed to being good stewards to the environment."