Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg claimed Thursday that President Biden's decision to block the Keystone XL Pipeline is part of a broader plan that will end up being a net positive for employment, despite union outrage based on the loss of more than a thousand jobs.
Biden revoked a necessary cross-border permit for the pipeline in an executive order on Wednesday, one of more than a dozen actions he took during his first hours in office. Construction on the project had stopped earlier in the day in anticipation of the move.
"Environmental ideologues have now prevailed, and over a thousand union men and women have been terminated from employment on the project," North America’s Building Trades Unions said in a statement following Biden's action.
Asked about this at his confirmation hearing by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Buttigieg was optimistic that these losses will be offset by new positions created as the new administration shifts towards climate-conscious goals.
"I believe that the president's climate vision will create more jobs on that," the former mayor of South Bend, Ind. said. "And I think it's going to be very important to work with him and work with Congress to make sure that we can deliver on that promise too. That on that, more good-paying union jobs will be created in the context of the climate and infrastructure work that we have before us than has been impacted by other decisions.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pressed Buttigieg on what this actually means.
“So for those workers, the answer is somebody else will get a job?” Cruz asked.
“The answer is we are very eager to see those workers continue to be employed in good-paying union jobs, even if they might be different ones," Buttigieg said.
The Keystone XL Pipeline project was initially proposed in 2008 and has volleyed back and forth as the fossil fuel and industry and climate activists battle over energy policies. President Barack Obama rejected the project in 2015, but President Donald Trump gave it the green light shortly into his tenure in the Oval Office.
Biden has pledged to pursue a green energy agenda, and his decision to revoke the Keystone XL permit is perceived as an early follow-through on those commitments.
In a recent letter to Biden, several groups including the National Association of Manufacturers attempted to convince him that the project had evolved considerably since he was last in office, and was designed to meet “future energy demand in the most sustainable way possible.”
FOX Business' Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.