WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) — Just hours before now President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Ceremony, Republican West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito criticized one of his executive orders including the Keystone XL pipeline.
Senator Capito is taking aim at President Biden after he pulled a permit over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would transport oil from Canada to parts of the United States.
“I think that President Biden has made it clear that climate change is his prevailing thought,” Senator Capito explained. “And while that sounds great and I believe that we need to work towards cleaning our environment, we’ve gotta take into consideration the impacts this has on jobs.”
Senator Capito says that by revoking the Presidential Permit approved by former President Trump will result in a loss of thousands of jobs.
“Over ten thousand jobs of construction, electricians, all of the manufacturing that goes along with creating the pipe. The agreements that were put in place before,” Senator Capito said. “And I think there needs to be a better consideration for the American worker.”
The Keystone XL pipeline has been opposed by a number of environmental groups including the Potomac Riverkeeper Network. Brent Walls is an Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and he hopes that this reversal is a step towards the prioritization of the environment.
“We have some very real world global climate impacts right here in the Potomac watershed where both Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia state agencies are noticing huge declines in fish populations,” Walls explained. “And this decline is due in part to the excessive high flow events during the spring. These high spring flows are wiping out these nurseries that is severely impacting the populations.”
He also hopes that the Biden administration will look into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC which is responsible for reviewing plans and proposals like the Keystone XL pipeline. He explained that there are a number of pipeline projects currently being pitched to FERC and he hopes that the new administration will investigate how FERC reviews proposals and what they look for in a project before it is approved.
“I am hopeful that this is the start of a real analysis of our addiction to oil and coal in this country. [By] Investing and developing that infrastructure, then you’re gonna wanna continue supplying the material for that infrastructure,” Walls explained. “And it’s gonna keep us further and further from trying to seek out renewable energies.”
Walls believes that as communities face the loss of a major industry, they should seek out federal and state programs and turn to more environmentally friendly ways to rejuvenate their economy. He cited that the closing of the Luke Papermill in Allegany County, Md. lead to a boom in ecotourism in the area. He explained that by choosing to invest in ecotourism can not only help the environment but also the economy.
Walls also believes that federal or state-federal programs should help communities retrain into other disciplines after the loss of a major industry. He went on to explain that there’s a lot of need for helping communities with low-cost training to go into a different discipline to make a living.
When asked what the Biden administration should do to protect the environment but also preserve jobs, Senator Capito did not have an answer or a suggestion for the new president.
The company responsible for the development and construction of the pipeline, TransCanada Energy, released a statement writing that they are disappointed in the decision and that the action would directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers and negatively impact ground-breaking industry commitments to use new renewable energy.