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Unions Robocalling Nebraska in Support of Keystone XL

October 23, 2010

Greenwire, a subscription-only energy and environmental news service, reported on October 21 that in Nebraska, labor unions are funding a robocalling campaign in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. The story itself is copyrighted, so I can’t just paste it, but here’s a summary:

Last week automated calls began going out to Nebraskans, praising the proposed Keystone XL pipeline as “the safest pipeline ever built,” bringing “family-supporting jobs for Nebraskans.” The calls condemn Keystone XL critics as “fringe special interest groups” and claim that the pipeline would bring $150 million in property tax revenue to Nebraska. The robocall script is registered with the state, as required by law, and records name Nebraskans for Jobs and Energy Independence (NJEI) as the call sponsor. NJEI was registered as a non-profit with the Nebraska secretary of state by Ron Kaminski, the business manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). LIUNA has in turn partnered with the Teamsters and AFL-CIO to endorse Keystone XL as a jobs project.

In South Dakota Public Utilities Commission proceedings, developer TransCanada disclosed that only 12-13% of pipeline construction jobs would go to in-state workers. If that’s the case in Nebraska too, it’s easier to see why a North American labor union would support the pipeline project – which might employ workers from across the continent – than why Nebraskans would accept significant risk to the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer for the next several decades in exchange for a relatively small, short-term economic boost.

To our knowledge, the tax revenue claims have not been verified by any state revenue authority to date, although the Montana Consumer Counsel is currently performing a Customer Fiscal Impact analysis on the Keystone XL proposal. It makes you wonder what the Nebraska Department of Revenue is up to these days.

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