New Cornell Study Says Tar Sands Pipeline a Jobs Killer

The Keystone pipeline will kill jobs, not create them, concluded a new study by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute. In their push to convince the Obama Administration to approve TransCanada’s permit, proponents claim the pipeline will create jobs, but they and their “experts” have some major gaps in their analysis.

Background: TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP, has applied for a Presidential permit to build a 1,700-mile crude oil tar sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada, through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma to Texas refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline is designed to carry more than 800,000 barrels of thick, tar-like oil every day. To produce one barrel of this heavy crude, extractors level the forest, dig up four tons of earth, consume two to four barrels of fresh water, burn large amounts of natural gas and create toxic sludge holding ponds. Tar sands oil is one of the most polluting, highest-carbon fuels, a fuel that contributes to the warming of the planet.

Fact vs. Fiction

TransCanada officials have claimed that Keystone would create “20,000 high paying jobs for American families” and “118,000 person years of employment in spinoff jobs in communities along the pipeline.” Citing methodological flaws in several studies, Cornell’s analysts reached a different conclusion. The project “has minimal job creation potential,” they found.

Here’s what the industry-sponsored studies left out:

  • Fuel prices will rise in 15 Midwest states. TransCanada’s own consultant told the Canadian National Energy Board that part of the purpose of the pipeline is to raise the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest.
  • Oil spills will threaten jobs and the farming industry. Phase 1 of the Keystone has spilled 14 times in its first year of operation. Oil spills will despoil rivers, drinking water sources and the Ogallala Aquifer, which will put at risk the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers and the tourism industry.
  • Keystone will kill jobs in Canada. The pipeline will end plans to build “upgraders” in Alberta that were expected to generate 22,000 construction and refinery jobs and arrest tar sands development. “Refining capacity in Texas has recently been expanded to accommodate tar sands oil – most of those jobs are now gone from the U.S. economy,” say Cornell researchers.
  • Pollution has health care costs. Keystone XL will increase air pollution emissions and reduce air quality in both Canada and the U.S. Treating respiratory and other illnesses has economic costs and those costs destroy jobs.

Don’t believe the polluter hype and check out Cornell University’s full report. In short, Keystone will kill jobs, not create them.

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Published: September 29, 2011