The United States has climbed out of the Great Recession, but we need to keep creating good jobs. U.S. manufacturers are doing their part — hiring 740,000 additional workers since 2008 and paying nearly $25 per hour. They want to do even more.
U.S. manufacturers want construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to finally begin.
Think how manufacturers will help grow the U.S. economy if after more than six years of examination, review and debate, this pipeline is finally approved. Manufacturers can hire tens of thousands of workers to build a modern, state-of-the-art pipeline, delivering a project that will increase U.S. energy supplies.
Let the construction begin and manufacturers will build. They will buy tires, iron castings, electric components, textiles, concrete and asphalt. They will also buy native seed for land restoration. They will buy these supplies from Oregon, from Arkansas, from Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana, from all across the country, creating jobs in small and large businesses all along the way.
Let the construction begin and manufacturers will hire laborers, welders, mechanics, clerks, engineers and office managers. Although some argue that the bulk of hiring will be insufficient — only 42,000 temporary construction-related jobs and far fewer permanent ones — think about it this way: Creating more than 42,000 jobs — even temporary jobs — is no small matter, especially when the United States faces historically low labor-participation rates like we do now.
Let the construction begin, and see the benefits to local communities as they absorb the more than $2 billion in worker payments from Keystone XL jobs. Let the construction begin and offer men and women new job opportunities. Let these new employees put their skills to work and use their earnings to buy cars and clothes, to pay for college tuition or a family vacation. Communities along the pipeline route will also see property-tax revenues increase substantially; revenues that will pay for better schools, parks, libraries and infrastructure.
Let the construction begin because the exhaustive, laudable and necessary environmental reviews have concluded that the Keystone XL pipeline has met, and in many cases exceeded, environmental requirements. Its 1,700 miles of pipe will be added to the half-million pipeline miles crisscrossing the country already, delivering oil and natural gas to refineries and ports.
While I applaud talk about revitalizing the U.S. manufacturing sector — and there has been progress — talk is not action. Unleashing manufacturers to buy, build and hire; unleashing great industries to put people to work to support our country’s economic and energy future – that’s action. Let the Keystone XL pipeline construction begin. Finally.
Doug Oberhelman is the Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc. and former Chair of the National Association of Manufacturers.