Building Back Better With American Energy
After nearly five years into the effort to secure approval for the Willow Project in Alaska, America’s blue-collar workers are ready to get to work. Despite the controversy and fearmongering, developing our own domestic energy with strong environmental safeguards is a win-win.
ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project in Alaska will develop our own, homegrown American energy portfolio, benefit local communities and put skilled union laborers to work. The project will be built primarily through U.S.-sourced materials and create over 1,800 union construction jobs with long-term, family sustaining careers for Alaskan workers — much-needed opportunities in a state with such a high unemployment rate. That’s on top of the security benefits that the project’s peak production of over 180,000 barrels per day of responsibly produced domestic oil will deliver by decreasing our reliance on foreign energy supplies.
Experienced union workers are trained for the exacting, detailed work needed to ensure compliance with Willow’s strict environmental protection requirements to safeguard the Alaskan tundra and its wildlife. After years of collaboration between ConocoPhillips, government agencies, Alaska Native corporations, communities and the public, the comprehensive project plans ensure Willow will be produced with the strongest environmental and social standards.
With decades of experience building and maintaining infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, pipelines, mine sites and air strips, American skilled trades’ workers are trained in the work required for responsible domestic energy production, especially in remote areas like Alaska’s North Slope. With roughly 75% of Willow’s North Slope installation work hours slated to occur over five years, this union workforce will continue to grow through comprehensive, equitable Department of Labor–registered apprenticeships that train and skill-up workers to safely perform complex tasks under ever-changing conditions.
And it’s not only the workforce that benefits from more American jobs — workers’ families, communities and the surrounding economies benefit too. Willow is a textbook example of the huge opportunities domestic energy projects can foster — both for skilled Alaskan workers and America’s energy security.
More than two dozen Alaska Native communities and corporations have voiced support for the project and understand the benefits of job creation for community and state programs. In the North Slope, schools, clinics and essential services are almost entirely funded by oil and gas production. Willow will generate over $10 billion in public revenue, and 50% of federal royalties will go towards local grants for North Slope communities to improve public resources.
With significant stakeholder input and a lengthy and exhaustive review process completed, it is time to approve the project to ensure that the benefits for skilled union labor and the surrounding North Slope communities can be realized. Laborers’ International Union of North America members and our fellow building tradesmen and tradeswomen will ensure these plans are executed with the highest degree of care and protection, and we urge the president to approve the project, upholding the scaled back decision that includes three construction pads.
Any so-called compromise plan that further reduces the project scope is tantamount to cancelling the project by making it unviable. We need to build back better with American energy, and that includes Alaska and the Willow Project.
Terry O’Sullivan is general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, whose half million members work predominantly in the construction industry. You can reach LIUNA on Twitter.