The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 06, 2015

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Obama rejects Keystone Pipeline

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Construction of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico was vetoed by President Obama on Feb. 25. The presidential action takes away employment opportunities for thousands of construction workers.

Obama said the Keystone bill, adopted by both the House and Senate, bypassed a State Department investigation that will determine whether the project would be beneficial to the U.S. "Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest," he wrote in his veto message.

Republicans in Congress are four votes short of being able to override the president's veto. They vowed to attach language approving the pipeline to a spending bill similar important legislation later this year that Obama would find difficult to veto. Environmentalists have strongly pushed the president to veto the bill.

The TransCanada Corp. wants the pipeline to carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Canadian oil sands crude in Alberta south to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf. It has been pending for more than six years.

"President Obama just made a disastrous decision for thousands of American workers," said Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions. "He had the chance to sign a bill into law that supported American jobs. Instead, he chose to place politics ahead of the economic interests of American workers and deprive thousands of men and women desperate for good-paying jobs.  It saddens our unions that a president who has sworn to fight for America’s workers has failed them."

January construction climbs 9 percent

This year's construction industry started off with a bang, as the value of new construction starts climbed a very healthy 9 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $621.0 billion, according to a FEb. 20 report released by Dodge Data & Analytics. 

The increase for total construction was the result of an especially strong performance by the non-building construction sector (such as power plants). Meanwhile, nonresidential building lost momentum for the second month in a row and residential building pulled back due to a slower pace for multifamily housing. 

The January statistics raised the Dodge Index to 131 (2000=100), compared to 120 for December. For the full year 2014, the Dodge Index averaged 122. 

“During 2014 and now early 2015, the month-to-month pattern for construction starts has often reflected the presence or absence of exceptionally large projects,” stated Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics.  “For much of 2014, a substantial share of this work was petrochemical-related.  The month-to-month variation for overall construction starts is taking place around what is still a rising trend."