Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline is Not a Jobs Plan, But an Oil Export Plan

The Oil Goes to China, the Permanent Jobs Go to Canada, We Get the Spills, and the World Gets Warmer

by Danielle Droitsch, cross posted from NRDC’s Switchboard

You’ll hear the GOP, the American Petroleum Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce make wild claims about the job creation potential of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Don’t be fooled. The pipeline company itself admits only “a few hundred permanent jobs” are created by Keystone XL.

The debate over whether Keystone XL creates jobs is a convenient diversion from something oil company backers don’t want you to know: this is an export pipeline to help them access foreign markets and bypass the United States. Oil companies will make bigger profits and oil prices for Americans will increase. That’s not a project that helps Americans. It’s a project that helps Big Oil.

CNN posted this interview with a TransCanada executive who admits that permanent jobs would only number “in the hundreds, certainly not in the thousands” from Montana down to Houston:

The oil industry is pulling a bait and switch scam with Keystone XL – offering it as a path to economic and national security when the pipeline is mostly meant for export. According to the State Department, only 20 permanent jobs will be created by the pipeline.  Even the pipeline company acknowledged that only “a few hundred permanent jobs’ will be created.   Claims the pipeline will created 100,000 jobs are false.   The U.S. State Department estimates no more than 6,000 temporary construction jobs will be created over the two years. We need better from Republicans when it comes to a jobs plan than a single project with jobs that won’t last.

While the debate over job creation from Keystone XL has attracted a lot of attention, long-term real job creation on which Americans depend is occurring in the clean energy industry.  In just a six week period in September and October 2011, Environmental Entreprenuers, a national community of over 850 individual business leaders, identified the creation of 32,000 clean energy jobs by 100 companies including manufacturing plants, power generation project, renewable energy, and energy-efficiency retrofits.

More than 2.7 million people are working in the U.S. clean energy economy right now – more than the entire fossil fuel industry put together. Every month new clean energy jobs are announced that are shovel-ready and lead to long-lasting permanent job growth in America.  Clean car manufacturers have created over 151,000 quality long term jobs in the United States while saving consumers billions of dollars at the pump. Between 2003 and 2010, the clean energy sector grew nearly twice as fast as the overall economy.

If we are going to truly debate national job creation, we should be working on measures that will create jobs on a national scale while achieving true energy independence for our country. And we’ve already made tremendous strides on that front.

Steven M. Anderson, retired Army brigadier general, argues the Keystone XL pipeline will not help America cut its petro-addition and will detract from building a clean energy economy:

This pipeline would move dirty oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and would set back our renewable energy efforts for at least two decades, much to our enemies’ delight.  It would ensure we maintain our oil addiction and delay making the tough decisions regarding energy production, management and conservation that we need to start making today.

The laser-focus emphasis on Keystone XL by House Republicans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others is nothing short of politics.  They are conveniently avoiding a more important point about how the Keystone XL pipeline that provides tar sands oil companies a platform to export oil while making billions of dollars in profit.  Instead, the pipeline will take the dirtiest oil on the planet, put America’s heartland at risk, and then send that oil to the highest bidder around the world.

Building pipelines to the Gulf Coast, in addition to providing oil companies an avenue to export, also increases oil prices.  There is concrete evidence (pp. 27-28) that building Keystone XL will increase oil prices in the Gulf Coast Market and the Midwest.

In the end, real job creation won’t come from approving a foreign pipeline.  The evidence shows the future of job creation is in global clean energy markets.  And that the real purpose of this pipeline is to give tar sands producers access to international markets.

Danielle Droitsch is director of Natural Resources Defense Council Canada. This piece was originally published at the NRDC Switchboard blog.

15 Responses to Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline is Not a Jobs Plan, But an Oil Export Plan

  1. Leif says:

    Please, oh please tell me why I do not hear this from President Obama or at least the Administration even once, when it should be in my face every day in the news cycle. Instead I must resort to a blog site, abet good one, and pass it on via FaceBook.

  2. Susan Anderson says:

    One could hope that our so-called liberal media would get this news out. I saw some similar but different figures from Cornell this morning, h/t Tenney Naumer:

    Cornell University Global Labor Institute: Based On TransCanada’s Numbers, “The Project Will Create No More Than 2,500-4,600 Temporary Direct Construction Jobs.”

    “Almost All” KXL Jobs Will Be Temporary – Permanent U.S. Jobs Could Be “As Few As 50.”

    It would be helpful if these numbers were the same, but the scale of the lies is truly telling, and I can see that attempting to get the truth from the reports might provide ballpark rather than precise figures.

  3. M Tucker says:

    Congressional Republicans and the current crop of candidates say false things about the economy and how to grow business All The Time! Why in the world does anyone listen to these morons at all?

    All Republican claims about the benefits of the Keystone extension are either wild exaggerations or complete lies.

    Many of these boobs still cling to the notion that if the US would just drill everywhere for crude we would be able to end imports. This is a complete lie but they keep saying it, even the one everyone says is the big Republican thinker, the one who claims to be a historian

    All of these know-nothings continue to preach trickle down economics. A completely discredited theory but they need to keep increasing tax breaks to the fat-cats.

    Why do Republican voters want these guys to increase taxes on the middle-class and increase tax breaks on the fat-cats? Why do blue collar Republican voters continue to believe Republican politician nonsense and lies?

    The only job creation plan the Gang of Polluters has is more drilling and Keystone. What a dismal and disappointing plan. Is that it? Is that the great idea from the Republican brain trust? Completely useless! What a waste of tax payer money to write paychecks for these ignorant weasels.

  4. Thad says:

    Keystone XL is the next Solyndra, only we have a front row seat to seeing it develop right from the start. It would be great to see press comparing the two – from a point where Republicans were quick to criticize Solyndra and are now over exaggerating job creation for Keystone XL to drive profits for Big Oil.

  5. Can anyone here explain why the pipeline would cause oil prices to rise in the midwest? I read pp. 27 and 28 of the appendix in the cited document and it didn’t explain anything about causality (it was also terribly written and I couldn’t make head nor tail of it).

  6. rodney says:

    It may raise the price of oil in the midwest because the oil coming down that pipeline is tarsand and takes four times the energy to produce than conventional crude. Much dirtier.

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    That’s an important point, Leif. Coverage here is making it obvious that the oil companies own our media.

  8. Norman says:

    The media is owned by the one percent. The internet will be censored/shut down if the fools allow it to happen. The “O” is beholden to the one percent, as are the Congress, even if they aren’t as smart as that other group called a congress. Almost seems like a parallel to the last days of Pompeii, as might it be.

  9. From everything that I have read, most of the tarsands will be turned to Diesel and largely exported outside of the US. It will bring jobs for the short term but after that USA is getting nothing except for a pipeline that could cause environmental issues in the future,

  10. The reason tar sand oil is cheaper in midwest than on global market is because there is a glut of it and no cheap way to move it to other markets. The USA saves a couple billion a year in oil imports because of this.

    The reason Big Oil wants Keystone XL is to move this glut of oil from where it is “landlocked” in midwest to the salt water so it can be exported to the world market. That will allow the price to rise to global market prices. It will cost USA a couple billion dollars extra.

    One reason there is a glut of tar sands oil is because USA is slashing oil imports. In the last 5 years the USA has cut oil imports equal to 4 Keystone XL pipelines worth. The USA needs less imported oil each year. A lot less. So Big Tar is desperate to find another market so they can triple production as they hope by 2035. The USA is full up on tar sands. They must find new markets if tar sands are to EXPAND rapidly as they wish.

  11. The GOP know exactly what they are doing: creating a massive new profit stream for BIG OIL. Jobs for Americans is a distant second place on their agenda.

    Keystone XL has always been about finding new markets for tar sands oil outside North America. USA is full up on tar sands. USA is slashing oil imports. We are buying 600,000 barrels a day LESS every year. Canada is already at a record 25% of oil imports for USA…way beyond any “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” level ever seen in USA.

    GOP is doing the bidding of Big Oil which wants to rapidly expand tar sands production (3x by 2035). They must find huge new markets for all this. That requires a series (7 to 15) major new pipelines to saltwater in the next 23 year to export all that new tar sand crude.

    Keystone XL is the first step in a massive spewfest from Alberta via saltwater and from there directly into our atmosphere.

    The pipeline should be called “Keystone XL pipeline to our Atmosphere”.

    The climate damage that would be pumped down it is nearly twice all the coal fired powerplant CO2 in Canada today. It is like tripling Canada’s coal burning. Just this one pipe.

    Big Tar wants 7 times that much in next two decades. This is why Hansen says “game over”.

    The tar sands are Big Oil’s biggest expansion opportunity. GOP are doing exactly what Big Oil says on this. It has nothing to do with what America needs.

  12. Honest Zeb says:

    Why not build a modern refinery in Montana to supply our domestic needs and releave the pressure on foreign oil.

  13. clays says:

    A pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast of the United States is going to be used to export oil to China? Seriously?

  14. Oregon Stream says:

    Clays, see comment #8. Refined products are exportable too. Not sure if an alternate route would be more difficult in some way, but with the gulf coast they would have the option of crude export or refining. It would seem to keep their options open.

  15. chip southard says:

    just another scam by big oil. when will this gov. stop treating it’s citizens like children. Sure education has gone down the drain- and my daughter can’t tell you what six times six is. even after being on honor roll all her life. but/ hey THE BABY BOOMERS ARE NOT DEAD YET. I read that it will use three gallons of fuel to make one gallon of gas from the oil sands HELLO. anyone else looked this up. SCAM