Michels Corp. owner urges Biden to restore Keystone XL pipeline project

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Tim Michels

Michels Corp. co-owner and vice president Tim Michels says President Joe Biden’s decision to halt construction on the Keystone XL pipeline will cost Wisconsin thousands of jobs and up to $3 billion in revenue.

Brownsville-based Michels Corp., along with Eau-Claire-based Precision Pipeline, were among companies awarded contracts to build the pipeline.

“I urge President Biden to put American jobs and American Energy independence first and reinstate the Keystone XL pipeline permit,” Michels said at a news conference Friday. “Thousands of Wisconsin workers are impacted by this action and all Wisconsinites will be affected at the gas pump.”

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Biden, on his first day in office, revoked the permit for the pipeline’s construction. The Obama-era State department denied TC Energy’s request for the permit in 2015 – but the company’s hope for the project was later restored with an executive order from then President Donald Trump.

Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. contracted Michels Corp. to build eight pump stations for the pipeline in Montana, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, according to Michels Corp.’s website. Michels says Precision Pipeline had a similar contract, adding that up to 1,000 workers at each company would be impacted.

“It’s more than just those 2,000 jobs,” Michels said. “It’s all the Wisconsin firms that help Michels operate, maintain our equipment and sell us everything from fuel, parts and materials. The ripple effect here for the Wisconsin economy is many billions of dollars. If I had to put a number on it, I would say its $2.5 billion to $3 billion of revenue for the state of Wisconsin.”

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Precision Pipeline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Construction on pump stations that TC Energy Corp. contracted Michels to build began in late June and were on track to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Michels Corp. expected to employ more than 350 people for the project during peak construction, according to the company’s website.

The 1,700-mile (2,735-kilometer) pipeline was planned to carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, according an Associated Press report.

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Madison-based Construction Business Group chairman Terrance McGowan said “well over 1,000 Wisconsin operators, welders, laborers and teamsters” had already been contracted for the Keystone XL pipeline project, adding that as many as 2,000 employees planned to work on the project over the summer.

“We had a project labor agreement signed last year and this project guaranteed good-paying, family-supporting jobs along with benefits,” McGowan said. “People don’t realize that two of the largest pipeline companies in North America come from Wisconsin. They employ a great deal of Wisconsin workers, so this has a great impact.”

The Wisconsin Republican congressional delegation, including Reps. Bryan Steil, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher and Scott Fitzgerald also called on Biden to reinstate TC Energy Corporation’s permit at press conference today in Franksville.

“With the stroke of a pen, President Biden killed good-paying jobs. In the early days of this new administration, East Coast and California liberals are enacting policies that are bad for Wisconsinites,” Steil said in a statement. “Maybe to Joe Biden, Wisconsin construction jobs are easy to brush aside, but to the workers I spoke to today, these jobs are their livelihoods. Wisconsin workers are bearing the brunt of this disastrous decision. I will continue fighting for our workers and their families, and oppose Biden’s job killing policy.”

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