Tuesday, October 4, 2011
State Dept. says Keystone XL will create fewer jobs than promised
Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline claim that the project will be a rich source of jobs, but critics say their numbers don't add up and any boost in jobs will be temporary.
The controversial TransCanada project would move tar sands oil - diluted bitumen - from northern Alberta, Canada 1,700 miles across the U.S. to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico through a three foot wide pipe that would cross North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
TransCanada and the American Petroleum Institute say that the project will generate at least 20,000 jobs, but the U.S. State Dept., which considered the project's socioeconomic impact as part of the still ongoing permit process, puts the number far lower.
"During construction, there would be temporary, positive socioeconomic impacts as a result of local employment, taxes on worker income, spending by construction workers, and spending on construction goods and services," the agency said. "The construction workforce would consist of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 workers, including Keystone employees, contractor employees, and construction and environmental inspection staff."
Advocates for the pipeline say that building it will have a multiplier effect because many new jobs will be created to serve the construction work force.
An economic impact study by the Perryman Group, commissioned by TransCanada, found that the project would create 118,935 "person-years" of employment.
The Cornell Global Labor Institute recently published an analysis of the Keystone jobs claims that criticizes the methodology of the Perryman report.
"Person-years," said Institute Director Sean Sweeney, is an inappropriate way to talk about the economic impact of the project because people will easily confuse that for the total number of jobs the project would create. And that is exactly what is happening.
On June 23, as he hailed the passage of a bill to expedite a decision on the Keystone pipeline, House Energy Committee Chair Rep. Fred Upton said that the pipeline would "create more than 100,000 jobs."