In Reports delivered to Congress by the U.S. State Department and several universities, and in statements by TransCanada’s Vice President, it has come to light that the number of permanent jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline could range from as low as 20 to as high as a couple hundred. This number is a far cry from the tens of thousands of new positions that were discussed in Congress previously and is a new and important argument for those fighting against the $7 billion pipeline project. Republicans in Congress are pushing for the pipeline to be built quickly, partially to increase friendly oil supply from Canada, but mostly to help the struggling job market in the United States, and some estimates for the part-time job creation are as low as 2,500. A spokesperson hired by TransCanada recently told Bloomberg News that the construction of the pipeline could take just two years, meaning that after construction is complete, those thousands of trumpeted construction jobs filled by unemployed American workers would drop thousands unceremoniously back onto the unemployment list. Though President Obama recently denied the request to get the pipeline started due to concerns for its effect on ecosystems, Senate Republicans today are trying to jam an amendment into a transportation bill that would get the fire lit under the pipeline project by going behind the President’s back.

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So much for long-term job creation – this pipeline would be environmental suicide for the areas through which it passes and for what? A few thousand temporary paychecks and a hunk of steel — which will likely bring oil leaks of unknown proportions — literally cutting this country in two from top to bottom in order to bring a tiny fraction of the oil needed in the U.S. into our market. At highest capacity the pipeline will only deliver 1.1 million barrels of oil a day and at 2010 levels the United States was guzzling up a whopping 19.1 billion barrels a day. The “friendly” Canadian fuel would only make us 5% less dependent on that “risky” foreign oil everyone is dying to get away from.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been a hot topic in Washington recently as Senate Republicans have been attempting to get the pipeline started as sneakily as possible by tying amendments to the payroll bill in December and a current transportation bill in order to try to get the project greenlit without proper environmental review. President Obama has been attempting to put approval of the pipeline off as much as possible, calling for further environmental reviews and a redrawing of the pipeline’s path in order to push a final decision until after November’s elections. All the while, environmentalists — like those at 350.org, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council — are saying the pipeline should never be built and that the unavoidable environmental destruction will only lead to more dependence on oil – the main culprit in the climate change fight.

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In addition to the inflation of long-term pipeline jobs by TransCanada backers, the amount of jobs expected to be created on the mere construction of the pipeline seem to be grossly overstated as well. In a Bloomberg government report it was discovered that TransCanada is planning on hiring six to seven workers per mile of construction on the pipeline where most pipelines employ just four to five. They deduced that this could mean the company was overstating their hiring potential or they were planning on getting construction done quicker therefore shortening the amount of time each worker was employed. Though TransCanada remains stuck to its 20,000 construction jobs number the State Department told Congress and the President that number was closer to 5,000 or 6,000 and that the amount of “manufacturing jobs” for American factories is grossly overstated as well since most of the steel pipe to be used will be built in India and merely finished here on U.S. soil.

With big oil money pouring into campaigns in this election year this fight is surely far from over, but the news that so few jobs will be created by this behemoth of a project should toss a wrench in the giant cog that is the pro-Keystone XL coalition in Congress. The issue at hand today is stopping the current amendment to the transportation bill so Congress can’t go ahead with the pipeline without a proper review.

+ Write to your Senator to stop the current Keystone XL legislation at 350.org

Via Bloomberg News

Images by Tar Sands Action on Flickr