The deep relationship between the U.S. natural gas and oil industry and America’s building trades unions – the men and women who build much of our country’s energy infrastructure – is getting deeper.
In remarks to the annual legislative conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), API President and CEO Jack Gerard announced a new program to join the best practices of the two organizations in a new safety initiative, applicable to all energy infrastructure construction.
The program builds on existing NABTU safety courses in a customized Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour construction safety class that incorporates specific pipeline safety information – with a focus on fire safety, safety in confined spaces and fall hazards. Completion of the course will result in an API-U certificate, recognized as the gold standard for training in the natural gas and oil industry. Gerard:
“The program is a valuable tool that will help ensure the industry can meet the ever-growing energy demand by employing highly qualified workers that share our commitment to operational safety and responsible environmental stewardship.”
In a prepared statement, NABTU President Sean McGarvey said the joint training reinforces the objective of safe energy infrastructure construction, which will boost individual families and the national economy:
“Our unions represent the safest, most talented, and highly trained skilled craft professionals the world has ever seen. NABTU members from coast to coast are committed to safely and effectively building the energy infrastructure this country needs. … We welcome the opportunity to work with the oil and natural gas industry to help our members be better equipped with the necessary skills to not just attain a job, but to find a successful career in construction.”
In his NABTU remarks, Gerard praised an industry-union relationship that has helped advance the twin goals of worker prosperity and the national greater good. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, reducing its oil imports and last year exporting more natural gas than it imported for the first time since 1957.
Both developments have strengthened our country’s energy security while helping the economy and American consumers. The environment has benefited, too. Increased domestic use of natural gas is the main reason carbon dioxide emissions across the entire U.S. economy are at nearly 25-year lows.
Fully realizing the benefits of U.S. energy requires new or expanded energy infrastructure – in which NABTU members, again, play a critical role. Gerard:
“It is clear that building a better future takes energy, and central to America’s future is innovation and the safest and best-trained workforce to sustain our U.S. energy renaissance.”
Gerard said industry expects to add nearly 2 million job opportunities by 2035 and needs trained workers to fill those opportunities. Developing the workforce of the future hinges on training and education, he said:
“The opportunities for employment are tremendous. Our goal is to ensure that the broadest and deepest pool of talent is available to fill the hundreds of thousands of job opportunities expected in the coming years. The simple fact is we need you and highly trained professionals like you with all types of skills to ensure that this era of American energy leadership continues far into the future.”
By Mark Green