Emory Bryan, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma stands to gain thousands of jobs if a pipeline project gets started.
It's been held up by environmental concerns, but could get the OK by the end of year. And welders are already training for the job.
Fifty welders a day go through classes at Pipelines Local Union 178. It's one of the largest union training centers in the country.
"This is a highly skilled craft. When they go out to work on a pipeline, they're tested on every job and every single job is an x-ray quality weld, every one of them is x-rayed," said Danny Hendrix.
The pipeliners have high hopes they'll start building the Keystone XL pipeline next year. It's planned to deliver Canadian oil through Cushing, Oklahoma, to refineries in Texas.
The rig welders come from all over the United States to Tulsa to train. They figure if this new pipeline gets started, 10,000 jobs will be created and some of those constructions jobs will start right here in Oklahoma.
"There's a lot of work going on right now and hopefully I'll get a piece of it when I get done," said Patrick Kingsland, Welding Student.
Students train in Tulsa, then return to upgrade their skills. It takes experience to get in the program, but graduates can earn over $150,000 a year.
"I used to be a carpenter and I got into this 5 years ago just because of lack of work in Wisconsin, and the pipeline came through and I heard about it, came down here and joined up and I've been steady working ever since. It's been good to me," Kingsland said.
The union believes the new pipeline would be good for the country too, building long term energy independence - and creating lots of jobs.
"They're going to bring people in to build the pipeline. They're going to be using your hotels and motels and your restaurants, everything a community supplies and we're going to bring the money," Hendrix said.
The pipeliners want to build up support for the pipeline to counter what they say is a false argument it would harm the environment.
They characterize the pipeline as a stimulus for the economy - of the country - and especially Oklahoma.
The pipeline would take two years to build. It's under review by the federal government.