Keystone XL Pipeline Won't 'Play Any Substantial Role' In Putting Americans Back To Work: Cornell Univ. Study

keystone xl pipeline white house protest photo

photo: Tar Sands Action/CC BY

A new report by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute echoes what opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have been saying on jobs and energy security: The jobs claims are overstated and the energy security arguments in support of it are, more or less, bunk. Among the report's main findings on jobs:

Claims about the jobs benefits made by Keystone XL supporters are based on an overall budget of $7 billion--though the portion that has a bearing on US jobs is roughly half of that.

The claim that Keystone XL will create 20,000 direct construction and manufacturing jobs in the US is "not substantiated". Rather, TransCanada's figures, submitted to the US State Department, show just 2500-4650 direct construction jobs for two years.

As for the claim by oil industry that Keystone XL will create 119,000 total jobs--direct, indirect, and induced jobs--it is "based on flawed and poorly documented study commissioned by TransCanada (the Perryman Group study). Perryman wrongly includes over $1 billion in spending and over 10,000 person-years of employment for a section of the Keystone project in Kansas and Oklahoma that is not part of the KXL and has already been built."

Bluntly, the report notes, that Keystone XL "will not be a major source of US jobs, nor will it play any substantial role at all in putting Americans back to work." Even using the erroneous employment figures from the Perryman study, the report says the current US unemployment rate would be unaffected.

Tar Sands and Energy Independence Don't Belong in Same Sentence
Though the report's main focus is jobs, the authors take a swipe at both the Ethical Oil campaign touting tar sands and the notion that building Keystone XL will increase US energy security.

The idea of energy independence clearly resonates with the American public, and the paid advertisements depicting Canadian Tar Sands as the source of "ethical oil" (and therefore a better option than oil from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia) plays to that sentiment. But KXL is a global project driven by global oil interests. Tar Sands development has attracted investment capital from oil multinationals--with Chinese corporations' stake getting bigger all the time. If approved, KXL will be almost certainly be constructed by temporary labor working with steel made in Canada and India. Much of the Tar Sands oil will be refined in Port Arthur, Texas, where the refinery is half-owned by Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia. And a good portion of the oil that will gush down the KXL will, according to some studies, probably end up being finally consumed beyond the territorial United States. Indeed, the oil industry is also trying to build another pipeline, Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway, to carry Tar Sands oil across British Columbia for export to Asian markets, although this pipeline also faces serious public opposition. Clearly, Tar Sands oil and energy independence really do not belong in the same sentence.

More on the Keystone XL Pipeline
Dalai Lama & Nobel Laureates Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline
US Plans to Export Oil from Keystone ZL Tar Sands; It Won't Improve Energy Security

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