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On March 24, the U.S. Department of State signed a permit approving the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. The decision comes after President Trump’s Presidential Memorandum on Jan. 24, regarding the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, designed to expedite the completion of the pipeline. The memorandum, invited TransCanada to re-submit  its application for a Presidential permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,600-mile pipeline that would ship crude from Canada's western oil-sands region to refineries on the Gulf Coast, and requested that the State Department reach a final permitting decision within 60 days of TransCanada’s submission of the permit application.

The approval comes 16 months after the Obama administration’s denial of the Keystone XL pipeline permit, preventing jobs resulting from the $7 billion project. Under Executive Orders 11423 of Aug. 1968, and 13337 of April 30, 2004, the Secretary of State is delegated the authority to issue a Presidential permit for any cross-border pipeline project that "would serve the national interest" of the United States. 

In September 2010, the project’s owner, TransCanada, announced it was voluntarily requiring contractors to sign a project labor agreement (PLA) with various construction trade unions as a condition of working on all but 120 of the 1,600 miles of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Southern portion of Phase 3, about 120 miles worth of pipeline, and some of the pumping stations along the 120 mile stretch are reportedly not subject to the PLA, and were awarded to a contracting firm from Eunice, La. 

The Keystone XL pipeline PLA has not been made available to the public, so it is unclear if any merit shop contractors or subcontractors and nonunion construction workers would be exempted from the PLA under certain circumstances.

On privately financed projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, a PLA can prohibit nonunion firms from bidding or prevent all nonunion workers from being hired, even if they have the necessary qualifications and experience. In other instances, all firms are permitted to bid on the PLA project and a PLA allows a limited number of nonunion workers, but forces them to pay union dues and fees as a condition of employment. In general, PLAs can needlessly increase construction costs, interfere with existing union collective bargaining agreements and unfairly discourage competition from nonunion contractors and their employees, who comprise 86.1 percent of the U.S. private construction workforce.

TransCanada is seeking approval from the Nebraska Public Service Commission to approve the pipeline’s route through the Nebraska, which is necessary for the completion of the pipeline along the proposed route. The Keystone XL pipeline is also expected to face delays from private landowners who are concerned with the project’s use of eminent domain. 

Continue to read Newsline for more updates on the Keystone XL pipeline.