President Joe Biden personally promised union labor leaders his support for natural gas despite canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline’s permit his first day in office, Mark McManus of United Association General told E&E News in a story published Thursday.
The meeting’s agenda included the coronavirus relief package and infrastructure plans, according to McManus, one of the nine union leaders who met Biden in the Oval Office on February 17.
“I brought up natural gas specifically to him, we spoke about pipelines … and he says, ‘I’m all for natural gas,’” McManus told E&E News.
Natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels.
Publicly, Biden has pushed an agenda promising 100 percent clean energy by 2035.
Republicans and union bosses united to condemn Biden’s executive order canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Before the Oval Office meeting in February, President Richard Trumka of AFL-CIO, one of the U.S.’s most prominent labor unions, said he wished Biden “hadn’t done that on the first day.”
Another executive order temporarily halted new oil and gas leases on federal land while the White House conducted a “rigorous review” of all existing fossil fuel leases and permitting practices.
In an effort to maintain support from the labor unions, the Biden administration is keeping close ties with unions directly affected by the energy orders. Biden’s Cabinet is hosting behind the scenes meetings with United Association, a pipefitter’s union that relies on work from fossil fuels that can not be replicated with renewable energy.
McManus said, according to the report, “the administration had arranged calls between his union and Biden’s nominees to lead the Energy, Labor and Transportation departments as well as the Environmental Protection Agency,” noting that “some nominees had prioritized calling the pipefitters before senators.”
But labor leaders asserted they were not consulted in the decision to shut down the Keystone Pipeline.
McManus said he feared Biden’s Keystone order would be symbolic of hostility to pipelines, but in the February meeting, Biden assured union leaders his administration would assess pipelines on a case-by-case basis.