President Biden personally promised union leaders his support for natural gas, United Association General Mark McManus said.
In a Feb. 17 meeting in the Oval Office, Biden met with nine labor leaders in the Oval Office to discuss his coronavirus relief package and infrastructure plans. McManus, was one of those leaders.
“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 of the meeting in a story published Thursday.
Natural gas emits fewer CO2 emissions than other fossil fuels.
But publicly, Biden has pushed an agenda that promises 100 percent clean energy by 2035.
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Republicans and union bosses came together 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. About 14 percent of the country’s natural gas output comes from federal land.
But in a bid to maintain support from the labor vote, the Biden administration has been keeping close ties with labor unions directly affected by the energy orders. Biden’s Cabinet has behind the scenes been hosting meetings with United Association, a pipefitters union that relies on work from fossil fuels that can’t be replicated with renewable energy.
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McManus said 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. He said that some nominees had prioritized calling the pipefitters before senators.
But labor leaders have asserted they were not consulted in the decision to shut down the Keystone Pipeline.
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McManus said he feared Biden’s Keystone order would be symbolic of hostility to pipelines, but he said that in the February meeting, Biden assured union leaders that his administration would assess pipelines on a case-by-case basis.