Tonight, 62 Senators voted for an amendment to the Fiscal 2014 Budget Resolution that attempts to give Congress the power to approve the Keystone pipeline. This is despite the fact that the pipeline would do nothing to make the country more energy independent, and would create far fewer jobs than its supporters claim.
While some conservatives may claim the pipeline would create “more than 20,000 direct jobs,” the most recent State Department impact assessment found that the pipeline would directly create only “3,900″ temporary construction jobs. After construction is complete, the operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, with “negligible socioeconomic impacts.” Moreover, only 10 percent of the total workforce would be hired locally. For perspective, our country had 3.4 million green energy jobs in 2011 and it was the fastest-growing industry in the country.
The State Department’s report also made clear that at least some of the Keystone oil will be refined and then exported, in response “to lower domestic gasoline demand and continued higher demand and prices in overseas markets.” This means the pipeline adds nothing to U.S. energy security, a key talking point used by proponents. It also means that the pipeline is a way for the industry to get access to steeper oil prices in foreign markets. So why the intense push in the U.S. Senate to get this project approved?
Perhaps it has something to do with campaign contributions from the oil industry. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the 10 co-sponsors received $561,539 on average in contributions from the oil industry compared to the other 89 voting senators who received $224,777.
The budget is unlikely to make its way into law. CREDO Political Director Becky Bond said “the only thing today’s nonbinding, symbolic vote underscores on Keystone XL is the fact that this is President Obama’s decision alone and his alone.” LCV President Gene Karpinski said “Big Oil may have bought themselves this meaningless vote, but the decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline remains where it’s been all along — with Secretary Kerry and President Obama.”