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Upgrading Existing Pipelines Would Create More Jobs Than Building Keystone XL, Report Argues

By Katie Valentine on November 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm

"Upgrading Existing Pipelines Would Create More Jobs Than Building Keystone XL, Report Argues"

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Replacing infrastructure on existing water and natural gas pipelines could provide more short- and long-term jobs than building Keystone XL would, according to a new report.

The report, published by the E3 Network and the Labor Network for Sustainability, found that improving water, sewer, and gas infrastructure in the five states along the proposed route of Keystone XL — Montana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas — would create 362,998 total jobs — five times more than the total (short- and long-term) jobs projected to be created by Keystone XL. The report used State Department projections of about 42,000 total jobs created by Keystone XL, but since the State Department’s analysis was only for Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, the report used the costs per mile and number of jobs created per mile in the three states analyzed by the State Department to estimate the additional jobs in Texas and Oklahoma. The report found that, using those estimation techniques, Keystone XL would create a total of 67,672 jobs in the five states (excluding Kansas) it travels through.

Existing pipeline infrastructure is in need of an upgrade — the report notes that this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a D+ for the health of its infrastructure overall, and warned that much of America’s drinking water infrastructure “is nearing the end of its useful life.”

“For unions and other jobs advocates, there’s plenty of work that needs to be done fixing existing water and gas pipelines along the KXL route,” Brendan Smith of the Labor Network for Sustainability said in a press release. “This is a great opportunity for President Obama to show the country that we can create many more jobs by protecting the environment than by expanding the fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Though upgrading gas pipelines would have to be done by private companies, state and federal governments can invest in upgrading storm water and wastewater pipelines. That investment, according to the report, will cost the five states in Keystone XL’s path $5.367 billion. To cover these costs, the report recommends the federal government end tax loopholes for fossil fuel companies. These subsidies account for about $4.14 billion in direct annual fiscal costs, according to the report.

“Thus, the entire $5.367 billion cost of meeting the 20-year wastewater infrastructure needs in the KXL corridor states could be paid for by less than two years of the revenue stream that would result from losing these three loopholes,” the report states.

Though the Labor Network for Sustainability argues against approving Keystone XL, many in the labor movement have been supportive of the project. The issue has driven a wedge in the movement between unions and labor organizations that support the project for its jobs claims and those that side with environmentalists and other socially-progressive interests.

The southern leg of Keystone XL is nearly complete and already has had to be serviced for dents and sags, spurring fears of leaks and spills if the overall project is approved. The State Department is overseeing a final environmental review of the proposal, and the company in charge of the pipeline, recently pushed the projected start up date for the project (if approved) to 2016.

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