Jobs Claims For Keystone XL Don’t Stand Up To Scrutiny

Nebraskans protesting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

Canadian oil giants are trading on Americans’ insecurity about the U.S. economy to sell us their risky Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Their job claims amount to little more than snake oil and won’t cure what ails our economy. Today, they got a hand from the American Petroleum Institute (API), which held a tele-press conference to defend TransCanada’s proposed pipeline in advance of the State Department’s release of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project, which is expected any day.

TransCanada, API, and other Keystone XL proponents have had their hands full. They’ve been plagued by repeated spills from TransCanada’s year-old Keystone tar sands pipeline, reports that TransCanada’s land agents have used bullying tactics against farmers and ranchers whose property is crossed by Keystone XL’s proposed route, and statements by TransCanada that Keystone XL would actually increase America’s fuel bill by $4 billion per year.

So they’ve turned to playing up one of the issues Americans are particularly sensitive about — jobs.

But yet again, TransCanada’s claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. In 2008, a report included in TransCanada’s Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL to the State Department said they anticipate “a peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline. In 2010, TransCanada put out a press release that said, “During construction, Keystone XL would create 13,000 jobs and further produce 118,000 spin-off jobs.” In 2011, TransCanada put out a fact sheet that said Keystone XL would “create about 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs.” Of course, none of these estimates accounted for the jobs losses that would result from increasing America’s fuel bill by $4 billion per year.

Since 2008, there has been a clear upward trend in TransCanada’s jobs claims for Keystone XL. Why? Perhaps because there has also been an upward trend in the amount of opposition TransCanada has encountered to their project.

Sure, their initial estimate of 3,500 to 4,200 construction jobs didn’t account for all the indirect and spin-off jobs that would be created to support construction of the pipeline. But a closer look at their analysis reveals gross exaggeration. For example, TransCanada’s Perryman Group report, which has formed the basis for many of their jobs claims, estimated that Keystone XL would create 22,582 retail trade jobs. I’d be very interested to know how 3,500 to 4,200 construction jobs would, in turn, create 22,582 retail trade jobs. And if TransCanada’s track record is any indication, some of the indirect jobs won’t even be American jobs. There are reports that TransCanada’s use of defective steel from India led to their problems with the Keystone tar sands pipeline.

In response to all this, Keystone XL proponents could say that at the end of the day, whether it’s 3,500 jobs or 118,000 jobs, the pipeline will create jobs. That’s not good enough.  TransCanada’s inflating jobs claims just deflates Americans’ trust in the Canadian company even more. If we can’t trust TransCanada, why would we allow them to build a risky pipeline across American lands and waters? Investing in domestic clean energy jobs is what Americans need, not polluter snake oil.

Help Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

Help stop the Keystone XL pipeline from threatening sandhill cranes and other wildlife! Urge President Obama and the U.S. State Department to keep dangerous tar sands oil pipelines out of America’s Heartland.

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Published: August 18, 2011