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Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Isn’t a Job Creator

Brad Johnson
ThinkProgress / News Analysis
Published: Saturday 5 November 2011
The only independent analysis conducted of the American job-creation potential of the Keystone XL pipeline finds that between 500 and 1400 temporary construction jobs will be created.
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Proponents of the dangerous Keystone XL project claim that construction of the 1700-mile tar sands pipeline from Canada to Texas will create tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of much-needed jobs across the country. “Jobs for the 99%!” proclaims a website funded by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The Wall Street Journal promises “13,000 union jobs.” On the House floor today, Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS) claimed the pipeline will create “20,000 high-wage construction jobs.” Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) says the pipeline will “create 14,600 jobs in Illinois.” The US Chamber of Commerce claims the project will create “more than 250,000 permanent jobs.” “U.S. jobs supported by Canadian oil sands development could grow from 21,000 jobs today to 465,000 jobs by 2035,” said API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin.

Accepting these figures, reporters like CNN’s Steve Hargreaves, NPR’s Ari Shapiro, and the New York Times’ Kirk Johnson have portrayed the battle over the tar sands pipeline as one of economic benefits versus environmental fears.

However, these tremendous-seeming jobs claims are based entirely on a report by the Perryman Group, commissioned by the pipeline’s owner TransCanada, whose results have been described as “dead wrong” and “meaningless” by Council on Foreign Relations fellow Michael Levi and environmental economist Andrew Leach, neither of whom oppose the construction of the pipeline.

The only independent analysis conducted of the American job-creation potential of the Keystone XL pipeline finds that between 500 and 1400 temporary construction jobs will be created, with a negative long-term economic impact as gas prices rise in the Midwest and environmental costs are borne:


Why this tremendous discrepancy? Examining TransCanada’s business operations, the Cornell Global Labor Institute report finds that TransCanada has already purchased most of the steel it intends to use for the pipeline from India; that most of the work will be conducted by people already employed by TransCanada; and that the Perryman Group included already-completed pipeline projects in its job-creation estimates.

“The operating costs for KXL are very minimal,” the Cornell Global Labor Institute report explains, “and based on the figures provided by TransCanada for the Canadian section of the pipeline, the new permanent US pipeline jobs in the US number as few as 50.”

Unlike the Perryman Group’s “opaque” methodology,” the Cornell report explains its calculations with full transparency.

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ABOUT Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is the Editor for ThinkProgress Green at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in math and physics from Amherst College and master’s degree in geosciences from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. He is the co-author of Technomanifestos and the founder of Prior to joining the Center, he worked as a developer for Saatchi & Saatchi, Lextranet, and the Democratic National Committee. Brad grew up in Boston, Massachusetts.





Where are they getting these

Where are they getting these overblown jobs numbers from? It's not rocket science - just plain-old common sense. THINK about it!
The oil produced and refined, and re-refined, is so toxic it cannot be used in US or Canadian vehicles. It would be exported to China. And WE have the nerve to bitch about the lead used in China's toy manufacturing. This dirty fuel will destroy our environment (yes, China's environment is the same as ours). We should hold ourselves to the same standards we expect from others.
Perhaps that's not such a good idea - look at our sorry excuse for elected "officials". They have no standards, they have no shame!

Building the pipeline is a

Building the pipeline is a disaster. Burning this dirty oil anywhere is worse. Our Earth cannot stand the CO2 which will be released. President Obama, YOU must stop this abomination.Margaret Candler

HEY 99%! Are you angry? Use

HEY 99%! Are you angry? Use it!

We have POWER! “Buying Power.” And, it’s about time we used it. Here’s how.




Companies want our money, but they don’t want to help America get back on its feet?
We are being starved, now let’s starve those greedy corporations who took our money.
We want companies to hire us, politicians to vote for us, and this is how to force it.
We have an incredible mobile army of millions and millions and millions of people!
Let’s combine the power that we all have. VOTE, by NOT spending.

Stop buying as much as you can. Stop buying from ALL of the big corporations, retailers and banks; Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid, Kroger, Costco, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Sears, Lowe’s, Supervalu, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Georgia Pacific, RJR, Brown & Williamson, Kraft Global, Sara Lee, Tyson, BP, Shell Oil, Exxon Mobile, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Microsoft, Dow Chemical, Chevron, Kimberly-Clark, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Ford, Chrysler, GM, Disney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, The Gap, Penny’s, Colgate, Nike, Staples, Office Depot, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Avon, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Kellogg’s, Dean Foods, General Mills, etc., etc., etc. All of them!
Add your own companies to our list and pass it on.

Don’t use global banks. Move your money from a big bank to a neighborhood bank.
Don’t use your credit cards or ATM’s…at all.
Don’t shop any retail chain stores. Shop local, or mom and pop shops.
Don’t buy gasoline. Walk, take a bus, car pool, or ride a bike.
Don’t buy any extras like music, movies, electronics, or toys…nothing.


Greedy global companies will be left in shock not knowing what to do.
Wall Street, the oil barons, corporate fat cats, stockholders, executives, marketers, retailers, politicians, and President Obama, will be asking us, the 99%, what we want!


We have already started.


Donna M Crane's picture

The American people do not

The American people do not want this project, which is a disaster waiting to happen that will be crawling across our land like a menacing viper. There is no upside to this for our citizens, only for the corporations who are already sucking us dry like zombies marauding through our nation. The President must stop this abomination.

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