ONE THING I keep hearing from working men and women as I drive across New Hampshire is they want a shot at a good job that pays a fair wage with decent benefits. Too many people remain stuck in part-time work, or are employed below their skill level. Pay raises have been hard to come by. A recent report from the National Employment Law Center found that as we have come out of the recession, we have replaced middle-class jobs with lower-wage jobs.
That’s one of the reasons why I’m running for the United States Senate: to promote policies and initiatives that will provide better jobs for all. I do not want to see a minimum wage economy. I want to see good-paying jobs flourish.
The Keystone pipeline is a perfect example of the type of project that will create those good-paying jobs, if only government would get out of the way. Building Keystone would immediately create thousands of union and non-union construction and maintenance jobs that will last years.
On Wednesday, business groups and union members joined together at a rally in Concord to encourage moving forward with the Keystone project, which is bogged down in bureaucratic politics. The fact that both business groups and union members support this bill demonstrates the broad, bipartisan coalition in favor of this common-sense project. In an increasingly polarized political arena, it’s very rare to find initiatives so strongly supported from different coalitions across the political spectrum, but the Keystone pipeline fits the bill.
Last year, the president of the AFL-CIO called Keystone a “lifeline” for its members and urged Congress to move forward with this project immediately. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters called Keystone “a real chance to earn a good wage and support their families in this difficult economic climate.”
In all, 17 Democratic senators joined the growing chorus of voices backing construction.
Unfortunately, President Obama and his strongest allies, including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, have stood in the way of Keystone getting the approval it needs to move forward. Sen. Shaheen has voted against Keystone four times, but it’s never too late to do the right thing.
I encourage Sen. Shaheen to join me in support of this important project. Just as labor and business have come together, I’m hoping Sen. Shaheen and I can bridge the political divide. Six years of delay are long enough. Five separate reviews have proven that we can build this pipeline in a safe way. The concerns of the environmental community have been addressed.
Aside from more good jobs, Keystone will also lessen our demand on foreign oil. Instead of sending billions of dollars to the Middle East and other hostile regions of the world and lining the pockets of these unfriendly countries, we’ll be trading with our friends in Canada. Each day, Keystone will carry 830,000 barrels of oil to U.S. refineries.Further, increased supply will lead to a lessening of demand, which will help lower gas prices as we head into the summer driving season. For a tourism state like New Hampshire, cheaper gas means more visitors, and that too is good for jobs.
Mega-projects like the Keystone pipeline, which offer the potential of so many good jobs, don’t come along often. This is a chance for Washington to finally do something right by approving it.
Enough with the delays. Let’s get this done.
Scott Brown of Rye is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.