The 20,000 jobs involved in pipeline construction? A fabrication supported by misleading mathematics. The 250,000 indirect jobs? A number based on one oil-industry funded study that counted jobs for “dancers, choreographers and speech therapists,” according to the Post.
“Thank heavens some reporter actually questioned this jobs number, instead of just repeating it,” said Bill McKibben, who is leading a major protest against Keystone XL this Sunday at the White House. “The only study not paid for by the pipeline company makes clear that there are no net jobs from this pipeline because it will kill as many as it will create.”
Lawmakers, Republican presidential candidates, and the media have repeated TransCanada’s claim that the Keystone XL project would create 20,000 new jobs if approved–13,000 from direct construction and 7,000 from supply manufacturers. The Post shows both numbers to be inaccurate, quoting TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling: “Girling said Friday that the 13,000 figure was ‘one person, one year,’ meaning that if the construction jobs lasted two years, the number of people employed would be only 6,500.”
The manufacturing jobs are also misleading. The company has already purchased $1.9 billion on pipe and other materials. Of the money still to be spent, the Post and Cornell report both concluded that the majority would go overseas. At least $1.7 billion worth of steel will be purchased from a Russian-owned mill in Canada. TransCanada claims the remainder will be produced in Arkansas. The company’s first Keystone pipeline was built almost entirely with foreign steel imported from India and Canada.
In fact, in the only jobs study not funded by TransCanada, the Cornell Global Labor Institute concluded that any jobs stemming from the pipeline’s construction were likely be outweighed by the environmental damage it caused, along with a possible rise in Midwest gasoline prices because a new pipeline would divert that region’s current oversupply of oil to the Gulf Coast.
President Obama told a Nebraska TV station Tuesday that he would make the final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by balancing the potential job benefits against health and environmental concerns. “I think folks in Nebraska, like all across the country, aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘we’ll take a few thousand jobs’ if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or if … rich land that is so important to agriculture in Nebraska ends up being adversely affected,” he said.
With the job benefits up in smoke, pipeline opponents are confident that if the President sticks to his calculus, the only plausible option is to deny the pipeline permit. This Sunday, over 10,000 people are expected to encircle the White House to show the President Obama he has the support he needs to stand up to Big Oil and say no to Keystone XL.