The president of one of the most prominent labor unions in the country has criticized President Joe Biden for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project on his first day in the White House.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka backed labor groups who have said that the president ended 1,000 existing union jobs and about 10,000 additional projected jobs with his decision during an interview with Axio on HBO, which aired Sunday evening.
“I wish he hadn’t done that on the first day,” Trumka told Axios’ Jonathan Swan. “I wish he had paired that more carefully with the thing that he did second, by saying here’s where we’re creating jobs.”
Trumka agreed with the Laborers’ International Union of North America’s assessment of jobs lost by Biden signing the order to cancel the pipeline permit. “It did and will cost us jobs in the process,” he said.
The Keystone XL pipeline was expected to carry oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, while passing through Montana and South Dakota—an approximately 1,200-mile journey. There, the oil would connect with existing pipelines and be shipped to refineries.
But Biden stopped its construction after taking office last month. Unions joined TC Energy, the company behind the XL pipeline, to warn the president that the move would cost thousands of jobs.
Trumka said that he believes Biden regrets his handling of the executive order, and while he’s uncertain whether the president intends to stop other pipelines in the future, Trumka urged him to “pair it with job creation that will be greater than the number of jobs lost.”
“He’s a man of his word. But he’s also promised to create jobs, good union jobs, and be the best union president that we’ve ever had. And I believe he’ll do that as well,” he said. “If you destroy 100 jobs in Greene County, Pennsylvania, where I grew up, and you create 100 jobs in California, it doesn’t do those 100 families much good.”
Since entering office, Biden has sought to prove his commitment to addressing climate change by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and halting new oil leases.
On Thursday, the Senate backed the Keystone XL pipeline, with two Democratic lawmakers breaking with Biden to vote for a symbolic GOP amendment in favor of the energy project. The amendment to the budget resolution, introduced by Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana, called for funding to strengthen U.S.-Canada ties over the project.
“I’m glad to see my amendment in support of the Keystone XL pipeline pass,” Sen. Daines tweeted. “To the Senate Democrats who voted yes: your support can’t stop here.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.