In his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to halt the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was meant to transport Canadian crude oil to the U.S., citing the climate-change crisis as the reason.
The move swiftly eliminated the estimated 11,000 U.S. jobs – including 8,000 union jobs – the project would have sustained in 2021.
Neal Crabtree, a welding foreman who began working on pipeline construction as an apprentice in 1997, was dismayed when he heard the news.
“This is not a time to be making political statements. We need to be finding ways to put more Americans back to work, not the other way around,” he said in an interview with Fox News.
A member of Pipeliners Local Union 798, one of four unions whose members will be left without work due to the pipeline’s cancellation, the 46-year-old welder from Arkansas was among the first to be laid off following the order. At the time the cross-border permits for the pipeline were rescinded, he and his team were in Nebraska working on a pump station for Keystone XL.
In a Facebook post from the Wednesday, Crabtree wrote he felt “a sick feeling in my stomach and an aching in my heart,” and admitted to breaking down and crying in his truck after laying off his team.
“Just like the rest of the country, COVID hurt us bad. We had a lot of projects canceled,” he told Fox News. “We’ve got guys that haven’t worked in months, and in some cases years, and to have a project of this magnitude canceled, it’s going to hurt a lot of people, a lot of families, a lot of communities.”
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