The Biden administration's recent cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline has shaken an entire industry and may cost thousands of workers their jobs. Some of those workers are already facing sudden unemployment.
Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden wasted no time making good on one of his central campaign promises - putting a stop to the Keystone XL Pipeline. And Republican lawmakers are among the many Americans who are fuming.
Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins (R) said, "It's not just bad for America and Americans, it's bad for the world. Our neighbors to the north and the south depend upon these pipelines. It's part of the renewed NAFTA that we worked very hard on under President Trump. Part of our contractual agreement is the completion of the Keystone XL."
Opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline centers on the environmental impact, but for those who care about clean energy, targeting pipelines might be the worst thing to do.
"The safest, most efficient, most ecologically sound method by which to transport energy product is by pipeline," Higgins said. "They are agenda-driven, not science-driven. It's for politicians, not people."
The Trump administration fast-tracked approvals for oil and gas pipelines across the country, and at the end of President Trump's time in office there were oil and natural gas pipelines covering more than 9,500 miles under construction in the United States, and dozens more that had received approvals but have yet to start construction. The new administration's hostility toward fossil fuels puts the future in doubt for these companies, but it won't affect the demand for the product they carry.
American Exploration and Production Council CEO Anne Bradbury said, "Pipelines are proven to be both the safest and most environmentally safe way to move oil and natural gas, so by canceling pipelines, you are just forcing it to travel a different way."
Higgins said, "And you have to ask yourself 'as opposed to what?' It's trucks on the highway, trains on the rail and by water."
And moving petroleum products by rail or truck results in as much as six times more pollution than moving it by pipeline. Moreover, the Biden administration's canceling of oil and gas contracts on federal lands will do even more environmental damage.
Bradbury explained, "About 22% of our oil and gas produced domestically comes from federal lands and water. And so not only will it have a huge impact on American jobs, but it will simply move production overseas where it is produced at less stringent standards."
And those lost jobs won't be easily replaced. Neal Crabtree is a third-generation pipeliner.
"Starting over in a different job you're not starting at the top, you go right to the bottom and you've got to learn that all over,'' he said. "We're talking about men and women who have mortgages, they've worked all their life to get to the point they are now, in any career, you start over you're starting at the bottom."
"American oil and gas workers make at least double what workers in the renewable industry make. And even the unions have said that the oil and gas industry provides better pay, better benefits, and more opportunities for advancement than the renewable industry," Bradbury said.
Higgins said, "A reasonable man would hope that the oil and gas industry and the millions of Americans that it employs, we would hope that the industry could survive the worst of times, what we would not expect would be that the worst of times would be brought on by a newly elected president of the United States."