Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike McFadden may have shifted his position on the Keystone pipeline after taking heat from Minnesota labor groups. Last week he told The UpTake it would be OK to use cheaper chinese steel to build the yet-to-be-approved Keystone pipeline. The UpTake’s Bill Sorem posed the question to McFadden about using U.S. steel to build the pipeline following the Farmfest U.S. Senate debate this past week. (See video above and transcript below)
Since then labor groups from Minnesota’s iron range where much of the ore for U.S. steel is mined took McFadden to task. “Investment banker Mike McFadden would take one of the largest energy projects since the Hoover Dam and stamp ‘made in China’ on it,” said Craig Olson, president of the Duluth Building and Construction Trades Council. “McFadden should be creating jobs in Minnesota and the U.S., not in China.”
Labor groups have not been a traditional Republican constituency, but in the iron range area of Minnesota the ties between the Democrats (DFL) and labor have been frayed recently by debate over the proposed Polymet copper mine. Environmental concerns have pitted labor against environmental activists in the party. Republicans would like to exploit that rift in legislative races and the 8th congressional district race. However, the DFL factions called a truce during the party’s state convention and agreed to debate the issue after the election.
McFadden appeared to walk back his Chinese steel comments this weekend during an interview on WCCO-TV. (See video and transcript below) “Well, (Franken’s) voting record is that multiple times he’s voted against the pipeline”, McFadden told WCCO Sunday Morning host Esme Murphy. “And, and, if, if he said we’ll use U.S. steel to get it open, I’ll agree to that today. I think that would be great.”
McFadden said nothing to WCCO about agreeing to Senator Franken’s other condition for building the pipeline, which is that the oil from it not be exported, but used in the United States.
Transcript of McFadden Farmfest news conference:
Bill Sorem (The UpTake): The Keystone pipeline was set up to export. Senator Franken has asked that if it should be built that all the oil be diverted to the United States instead of exported and that it be built with U.S. steel. How do you feel about that?
Mike McFadden: Well what I can say is Senator Franken has repeatedly voted against the pipeline, does not support the pipeline. I do support the pipeline
Sorem: What about the foreign sales?
McFadden: Not just Keystone. Not just Keystone, but multiple pipelines around this country. And what I want to see is is for us to be energy independent. And I think we have the potential to be an exporter at some point in time. We have 24 LNG plants right now, liquefied natural gas plants, that are being permitted around this country. I will fast track those.
Sorem: Keystone is all that’s working right now
McFadden: Let me be very clear. Keystone doesn’t exist right now. So it it’s it’s it’s a hypothetical question. I will support Keystone. I want it built yesterday. And when I’m in Washington, just so we’re clear, when I’m in Washington in January we will have control of the U.S. Senate- Republicans will and we won’t have a veto proof majority, but we will be in control and with… there’s a number of Democratic Senators in the Senate that support energy policy that’s in line with what I support and together Republicans and Democrats will have a veto-proof majority to do things like pass the Keystone pipeline, fast-track the 24 LNG plants that are being permitted around this country. Now that has a dramatic impact on our economy.
Reporter: His question about building with U.S. steel…the pipeline? Built entirely with US steel?
McFadden: I’d love to see it built with with with U.S. steel, but we we I’m a big believer in free and fair trade and and I want us to do it in the most efficient way possible. I’d love to see U.S. steel used .
Don Davis (Forum Communications): So the steel comes from China because it’s the cheapest, that’s OK?
McFadden: It if it if what I’d love to see is us to use American products where we can but we got to be cost-competitive. I am, I am a supporter of free and fair trade
Davis: So the answer is yes if it’s cheaper in China
McFadden: Yeah. If if it’s not being subsidized by the Chinese government. So it needs to be free and fair trade, Don.
Reporter: How are you going to know that?
McFadden: We’ll there’s a lot of… there’s there’s a lot of analysis that’s done. There’s things that go through the judiciary, the FTC the Federal Trade Commission. So those are things I’d look into. But I think we’re going off on a tangent. Right now the … what’s real is we need to get this pipeline built.
Partial transcript of WCCO Sunday Morning interview:
Esme Murphy (WCCO-TV):You were asked if it would be OK, if building the Keystone pipeline, if Chinese steel was used if it was less expensive. A lot of folks up on the iron range take issue with that. Do you really feel we should use Chinese steel in the Keystone pipeline project.
Mike McFadden: So Esme, once again this is the Democrats once again refocusing an issue. The issue is the pipeline. I want the pipeline built. Senator Franken has repeatedly voted against the president… er against the pipeline. I would love it to be built with steel from Minnesota. In fact I’d love it to be built with copper from Minnesota. I’d love to get that Polymet mine open.
Murphy: A couple of questions. Didn’t you say you’d be willing to use Chinese steel if it was less expensive?
McFadden: What I, what I said is I will not support any sort of steel that’s subsidized by a foreign government. And I think once again the Democrats have tried to reframe this issue. I want the pipeline built. Senator Franken has been against the pipeline. And, and, and I’m a problem solver. This isn’t an either or, it’s not a false choice. If, if, if to get this pipeline built Esme, we agree to use U.S. steel that would be fantastic. Let’s get it done. I want to get it built because we have the opportunity to be energy independent in this country and really kick off this economy of ours.
Murphy: Well I think Senator Franken has actually said he supports the pipeline but he wants to make sure that it’s built with U.S. steel and that whatever oil comes out of it is used here in the US and he’s voted to circumvent the permitting process. But he’s said repeatedly that he would support this project done, done the right way with the right vetting process.
McFadden: Well, let’s get it done then. Because I support it. He has voted multiple times agains the pipeline. That’s his voting record. If I would agree to get that pipeline built tomorrow and I’d love to see Senator Franken actively support the pipeline, but I believe that he’s so connected with extreme environmentalists in this country that he’ll never support the pipeline just like he will not allow the Polymet.
Murphy: He’s said he will as long as it’s built with U.S. steel.
McFadden: Well, his voting record is that multiple times he’s voted against the pipeline. And, and, if, if he said we’ll use U.S. steel to get it open, I’ll agree to that today. I think that would be great.