Pipe Dreams? Only 20 Permanent Jobs From KXL: State Department

Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline project have long cited the enormous impact it would have in the US by providing thousands of economy-boosting jobs. Seems those were just pipe dreams.

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In a January 12, 2012, speech, Thomas J. Donohue, President of the U.S Chamber of Commerce, said: "Labor unions and the business community alike are urging President Obama to act in the best interests of our national security and our workers and approve the pipeline. We can put 20,000 Americans to work right away and up to 250,000 over the life of the project."

Donahue took those pie-in-the-sky job predictions even further, "In fact, by knocking down the barriers, we can unlock up to $250 billion in private capital for infrastructure. Leverage this with public investments, and we could create 1.9 million jobs over 10 years."

With so many unemployed and under-employed in the U.S., it's no wonder there is such a bitter divide between environmentalists and those who support the KXL pipeline, 250k to 1.9 million new jobs is quite a carrot to dangle. But it's not true, according to the State Department.

Bloomberg News reports:

TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline, heralded by supporters as a major job creator, will add few permanent positions once the $7 billion project is built.

The number of people needed to operate and maintain the 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) pipeline may be as few as 20, according to the U.S. State Department, or as many as a few hundred, according to TransCanada.

“I don’t see a big jobs impact,” Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, said in an interview. “It gets the oil into refineries that already exist. It’s like replacing a bridge on the highway.”

Numbers for temporary construction jobs along the pipeway, according to State Department, estimates are anticipated to be between 5,000 and 6,000. Note that those are temporary positions.

Of the 800,000 tons of 36-inch carbon steel pipe needed for pipeline construction, it's not altogether clear how much will be produced by U.S. steel mills, prompting Congressional Democrats led by Representative Henry Waxman, of California, to ask TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling to disclose where steel for the project will be manufactured.

“TransCanada is entitled to decide where to purchase its materials,” Waxman’s Feb. 10 letter said. “However, providing misleading information to Congress in order to obtain a legislative earmark for the approval of its pipeline would be clearly improper.”

As few as twenty jobs. Why would anyone risk our precious land, water and air for twenty jobs with a dirty oil company?

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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