A major pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico is almost finished and hundreds of Oklahomans can take the credit.
The Gulf Coast Pipeline runs from Cushing to just east of Houston.
The pipeline is run by TransCanada, the same company that's behind the Keystone XL pipeline, which is still awaiting government approval. But the company behind it says the Gulf Coast Pipeline and some hard-working Oklahomans are examples of why the Keystone XL should be built.
Right now, welders-in-training are in the middle of a 14-week course that could put them on the front lines of a massive construction project. The training is taking place at the Pipeliners Union Local 798, in Tulsa.
"You can tell from this facility, they do a great job training their members and making sure they're ready to go to work," said Corey Goulet, TransCanada Keystone Projects Vice President.
The company is building the $2.3 billion Gulf Coast Pipeline from the Cushing hub to Nederland, Texas.
Goulet said the project created 4,000 jobs, including 339 pipefitters and welders from Local 798.
"They're productive and we appreciate the support they provide, not only to the project, but what they provide for the permitting process for future projects," he said.
Goulet said the Gulf Coast pipeline's success should help TransCanada get approval for the Keystone XL pipeline. It will go from Nebraska to Canada.
Union leaders say these projects provide jobs and stability for hundreds of people. For example, they say, their members who worked on the Gulf Coast Pipeline earned, on average, $134,000 per person.
"Which means they've got healthcare for another year, they've got a pension credit for when they retire," said Danny Hendrix, with the Local 798. "It means that those families have got healthcare, dental care--so it means a lot. It means they can make a house payment, it means they can send their kids to college."
Hendrix hopes these welders in training are next in line for similar paychecks.
There was some good news for TransCanada Thursday. A federal appeals court said the company can continue construction of the pipeline that would run through Cushing.
The judges said the environmental groups of Oklahoma could not prove the potential harm to the area would outweigh the definite economic harm of the pipeline's builders.