Union Leader Slams Obama's Hypocrisy Over Dakota Access Pipeline

Brittany M. Hughes | September 13, 2016
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In a politically rare move against a Democratic president, one union boss is slamming President Obama for blocking construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying it’s hypocritical for the president to tout a $15 an hour minimum wage while at the same time obstructing the creation of 8,000 to 12,000 new fossil fuel jobs that provide wages that are double that.

Sean McGarvey, president of the 3 million-member North America’s Building Trades Unions, pointed out that jobs in the fossil fuel sector pay around $30 an hour, while many renewable energy fields such as solar pay only about $16 an hour. If President Obama really wanted to help working people earn a decent living, he’d promote higher-paying projects like the pipeline, McGarvey said.

From Morning Consult:

But McGarvey on Monday accused the Democratic Party of hypocrisy, promoting a $15 minimum wage but undercutting well-paying jobs tied to fossil fuels in favor of less-skilled jobs tied to renewables. McGarvey said the average wage in the solar industry is $16.01, citing the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Energy Review.

“The irony of promoting an industry that’s average wage is 16 dollars, juxtaposed against the ‘fight for 15,’ to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour in the United States, doesn’t give us a great sense of the future,” McGarvey said.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172- mile pipeline that would funnel half a million barrels of North Dakota crude oil per day to existing pipelines in Illinois. Proponents of the $3.8 billion project say an underground pipeline is the safest and most environmentally-friendly way of transporting crude oil to markets across the United States, adding that the project will create upwards of 12,000 jobs and help keep America from depending on other nations for its energy source.

The Army Corp of Engineers green-lighted the project before the Obama administration caved to protestors and temporarily halted construction late last week.

Environmentalist groups, on the other hand, say they’re concerned about how the pipeline will contribute to the country’s carbon emissions (despite the fact that oil imported from Saudi Arabia burns just the same).

The project is also being contested by the 8,000-member Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who say the pipeline will disrupt sacred Native American sites in the region and threaten their water source. On top of that, liberal celebrities who don’t have to worry about living off $30 an hour, including Susan Sarandon, Shailene Woodley and Leonardo DiCaprio (best known for giving stump speeches on climate change while zipping around the world in private jets and yachts) have joined together to call for the project’s shutdown.

The Dakota Access Pipeline also highlights a tangled relationship between typically Democratic-leaning unions and a liberal president with a habit of screwing over the working class. And McGarvey isn’t the only union official taking aim at the Obama’s environmental policies that have repeatedly derailed efforts to make America more energy-independent (perhaps most notably by halting construction of the infamous Keystone Pipeline).

Last Thursday, several thousand unionized coalminers and labor advocates led by the United Mine Workers Association rallied in Washington, D.C. to protest the lack of government assistance for miners, their families and the communities that have been devastated by Obama’s EPA regulations. Many former miners say they’ve lost their pensions and health care thanks to coal companies declaring bankruptcy due to the war on coal.

On that front, the United States has already lost more than 191,000 mining jobs since 2014. About 83,000 coal mining jobs have been lost since 2008.

The White House also has a strong history of denying permits for energy projects, halting approved projects and miring others in reams of impossible regulations that have cost millions of dollars and sacrificed tens of thousands of American jobs (not to mention thousands of bald eagles, thanks to super-green wind farms).

American jobs, energy independence and bald eagles. The point here? If it looks American, liberal policymakers and Left-wing activists are sure to want it dead.