Business, Finance & Economics

Keystone XL: How many jobs would it create?



WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) stands next to a map of current oil pipelines during a news conference January 18, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.


Alex Wong

Republicans sought to cast the Obama administration’s momentary rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, running from Canada to Texas, as a job killer.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, “President Obama is destroying tens of thousands of American jobs and shipping American energy security to the Chinese. There's really just no other way to put it. The president is selling out American jobs for politics.”

So how many jobs would the pipeline have created?  According to TransCanada Corp., the oil company proposing the 1,700 mile pipeline, the figures range around 20,000 jobs in America, with 13,000 in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing.

According to CBS, the US Chamber of Commerce had even more optimistic estimates of 250,000 permanent jobs in the United States. But that figure, touted by legislaters as reason to support the bill, may be inflated.

The US State Department’s more recent estimates were much more modest, ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 jobs in America. An independent review of the pipeline by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute put the job creation figures at 500 to 1,400 temporary construction jobs, CBS reported.

The Washington Post reported the 250,000 new jobs claim, in reality, is around half the amount.

Boehner, speaking to Congress on Wednesday, reaffirmed the Post's report, saying the Keystone pipeline would create 100,000 new jobs.

In a statement, President Obama stressed that the rejection was “not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline” that did not allow for sufficient environmental review and rerouting of the pipeline, avoiding the more sensitive parts of Nebraska, according to the Associated Press.

More on GlobalPost: State Department rejects KeystoneXL pipeline

The administration’s decision to reject the Keystone XL proposal in its current form (TransCanada is allowed to reapply) should not have come as a shock said Politico, as the White House repeatedly warned that the deadline would force its hand.

Whether or not the decision was politically motivated, it will play a large role in the upcoming elections. Representative Gene Green (D-TX) told Politico, “He was going to lose either way. Environmental folks are going to be mad at him if he approved it. Labor folks and business and the jobs issue that we’ve all been trumpeting is on the other side of it. It’s a no-win for him.”

More on GlobalPost: After Keystone pipeline, Canada's other oil project

Unjustified claims of what the Keystone XL pipeline would bring comes two ways, however. The Post argued clean energy proponents against the pipeline should put more stress over American environmental policies that would encompass the entire economy versus isolated spots.

According to the report:

The future of the green economy will depend on whether the U.S. government can consistently penalize dirty energy across the economy — rather than in isolated spots such as this pipeline — as well as promote greater energy efficiency through regulation and offer direct support to sustainable-energy innovation.