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Putting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline's jobs numbers in context

Anthony Swift

Posted August 6, 2013

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Last week, the President’s comments concerning the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline’s limited job creation potential generated a response from the media and project backers which obscured the President’s point. Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline continue to pitch the project as a national jobs creator. President Obama has countered that in an economy of 150 million people, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be a “blip relative to the need.” The President observed that the operation of the Keystone XL would only generate about 50 jobs while its construction would generate about two thousand jobs of a year or two. The construction of Keystone XL, which would generate 3,950 person years of work according to the State Department, has a job creation potential on par with building a shopping mall or the campus renovations the University of Oregon announced last week. Moreover, after it’s built, Keystone XL will only employ between 35 and 50 people – and some of these positions will be filled in Canada (DSEIS 4.10-24). That’s less than two percent of the long term employment benefits you could expect from a shopping mall. By pitching the tar sands industry’s pet project as a national jobs generator in an economy of 150 million, Keystone XL’s Congressional boosters are incurring a huge opportunity cost on behalf of their constituents who need jobs, not empty promises from the oil industry. While the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not a national jobs creator, it would be a significant new source of climate pollution, adding 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere over its estimated lifespan.  For that reason it fails the President’s climate test and should be rejected. 

The controversy surrounding the President’s comments on the construction jobs associated with Keystone XL comes down to this critique, presented in an update by Washington Post Fact Checker. State Department shows that the construction of Keystone XL would generate 3,950 person years of employment - the President said the construction of Keystone XL would “create about two thousand jobs over one to two years,” while the Fact Checker  believes it would have been more accurate to say that the project would employ 3,950 workers for a year instead.

Whether the construction of Keystone XL will generate 3,950 person years of work for one year or 1,975 person years of work for each of two years, the reality is that the President is right – Keystone XL is not the national jobs creator its proponents are making it out to be. The Fortuna Galleria Mall project on Long Island generated about 3,000 construction jobs. The University of Oregon’s campus renovations are expected to generate about 2,700 construction jobs, and yet have gone largely unobserved by Congress. The Gulf Coast Galleria in D’Iberville, Mississippi is expected to create fifty times more permanent jobs than Keystone XL. These projects show what the President and other serious national policy makers know to be true – the Keystone XL pipeline is simply not the national jobs plan its boosters make it out to be.

Clarifying the confusions around Keystone XL’s job estimates

The controversy about Keystone XL’s employment potential lies almost entirely on how different interests describe define ‘jobs.’ As folks who work in construction know well, the nature of their profession generally requires working on a series of short term contracts in the course of a year.  But when talking about jobs on a national scale, there must be a standardized way to discuss work across different industries in a manner that is intuitive to the public.

So how much work would the construction of Keystone XL generate? The answer is 3,950 person years. This is based on State’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS), which outlines the number of construction workers per location, with a construction period for each state. 

Keystone XL Jobs.png

Source: State Department, Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS), pg. 4.10-6

If we look at how many ‘work years’ the construction of Keystone XL generates (by multiplying the number of workers by the weeks of work and dividing by fifty two), it comes together this way:

  • Montana: 4,000 construction contracts for an average of 19 weeks  = 1,462 work years
  • South Dakota: 3,500 construction workers for an average of 20 weeks = 1,346 work years
  • Nebraska: 2,700 construction workers for an average of 19.5 weeks = 1,013 work years
  • Kansas: 200 construction workers for an average of 33.5 weeks = 129 work years

All together, State’s analysis concludes that constructing Keystone XL would generate 3,950 person years worth of work. Of course, this is a necessary equivalency. While Keystone XL will be built over two years, it will not hire construction workers for two year - or even one year - contracts. As the table shows, 99% of construction workers will work on twenty week contracts.

So according to the State Department, constructing Keystone XL would generate 10,400 part year contracts or about 3,950 person years of work. TransCanada counts a part year contract as a job. The State Department’s definition is as follows:

“A job consists of one position that is filled for one year. A job could consist of two positions filled for a period of six months each, three positions filled for four months each, or any combination that sums to a year of employment.” DSEIS, Page 4.10-4

If permitted, TransCanada plans to build Keystone XL in two years. In this case, you can see where the President was coming from when he said that Keystone XL would generate two thousand jobs for two years – each year the pipeline was under construction, the project would generate 1,975 person years of work.

In an update, the Washington Post Fact Checker takes exception to this logic, arguing that you could just as easily say that the project’s construction would employ 7,800 workers over six months. That’s one way to put it. If TransCanada planned to build Keystone XL in six months, that would be the most accurate way to put it. However, TransCanada structured its project to be built over two years and State defined a job as a position filled for one year (or three four month contracts adding up to a year of employment). But putting our difference in semantics aside, whether you consider Keystone XL as generating 7,800 six month contracts or 1,975 per years of work over two years, the reality is that this project is not a major national job creator.

Keystone XL isn’t going to substantially increase U.S. employment, but it would substantially increase carbon pollution at a time we need to be reducing our emissions.  There is a better path forward for our country. In fact, just last year an organization of over 800 business leaders announced the creation of 110,000 jobs in clean energy and clean transportation. These jobs are helping to revive American manufacturing, cutting energy costs for homeowners and businesses, and scaling up new industries to provide a cleaner, more sustainable future. That’s a job plan to build a legacy upon. 

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The Disillusioned EnvironmentalistAug 6 2013 04:04 PM

So 1.2 Billion tonnes of CO2 over 50 years is roughly 24Mt/yr of CO2 (I think thats the high estimate your referenced article shows)

Yearly world CO2 emissions are 30.5B tonnes. Over 50 years that would be 1.53 Trillion tonnes of CO2. With population growth that would go up.

This is .07% of world emissions.

Although every little bit counts, why is there such a focus on the tarsands? What about coal? And what about the 400kg/bbl that comes out of our gas tank. You discuss "well to gas tank" emissions as if we the people have nothing to do with this story.

So the NRDC is focussing their energy on this stupid pipeline which if stopped will change things by absolutely nothing! In fact when the oil is produced it will be railed and trucked exposing me and my family to those dangers.

And even if this oil is stopped they'll just go after fracked oil or arctic oil which is even worse! Not to mention the additional price we the consumer will pay for it.

Its time to stop this foolishness and go after what we need to do:
focus on investment in renewables
focus on conservation

Not a drop of oil in this world is produced if there there isn't a customer waiting for it.

The Disillusioned Environmentalist

Anthony SwiftAug 6 2013 04:38 PM

Hi Disillusioned Environmentalist,

Thanks for your comment. The challenge we're facing is a large one and overcoming it will require a multifaceted approach. I can assure you that we are pursuing policies that would (and are) reducing our use of coal and oil (some of these measures are doing so through efficiency, which allow us to do the same thing using less energy). Reducing our demand for fossil fuels through efficiency and alternatives will always be a necessary component of a plan to deal with global carbon pollution.

But another element, articulated as "The Keystone principle" is to stop making the problem of climate change worse. Tar sands is more carbon intensive that conventional crude. Displacing conventional crude with tar sands increases emissions without having any affect on demand. It takes us in the wrong direction. How far in the wrong direction? A project with an equivalent effect on US employment would have to generate over 600,000 permanent jobs.

If Keystone XL's climate impact is deemed insignificant, then no single project's climate impacts could be considered significant. And climate change is a death by ten thousand cuts.

The reality is, we cannot address climate change in a single step. It's a marathon. But if we don't take the first step because by itself its not enough, then we won't finish. And the clock is ticking.

The Disillusioned EnvironmentalistAug 6 2013 06:04 PM

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for your swift response (pun intended ..... couldn't resist)

I agree in the cause of reducing our dependance on fossil fuels. And yes it is a big tasks.

Can you reply with any information that you might have on when renewables will be ready to displace fossile fuels on a $ per unit energy basis.
One of my concerns is that since oil and natural gas are so "energy dense", we may end up paying the equivalent of $200 to $300 per barrel equivalent for various renewables.
How can our economies absorb that shock? Remember that we hit the great recession when oil hit $148/bbl.

Is it possible that we need pipelines to allow for oil until the replacement is here? Otherwise I see oil shortages and prices rising as the only mechanism for us reducing demand.
Should we not allow pipelines and then let them run dry as we eventually don't require the oil when we are ready for that....

Disillusioned person with a brainAug 6 2013 06:46 PM

If KeystoneXL costs 4 billion dollars to build and only creates 4000 jobs, that is an expenditure of 1 million dollars per job created. That would mean labor would account for only 10% of the cost to build the pipeline.

Such a claim is preposterous. Labor is pretty much always the #1 cost of any infrastructure investment. You seem to be ignoring all the labor that goes in to the various services involved as well as the labor that goes in to the manufacturing and transportation of the equipment such as pipes, pumps, electrical infrastructure, valves, electronics, etc.

Perhaps you should attempt a more honest job creation estimate?

TransCanada's estimate of 20,000 jobs also seems high, and some of the jobs will be overseas. But your estimate of 4,000 jobs is off by a factor of at least 2x. Probably much more.

Galen C.Aug 6 2013 08:53 PM

@Disillusioned person with brain

I think you misunderstand the point of the article. It is merely clarifying and providing context to numbers provided in the State Departments DEIS. Recently these numbers have been misinterpreted by people in attempts to create a false sense of justification for the pipeline's construction. Though It would be tough to refute the percentages and multipliers you have invented in an attempt to bring more honesty to the discussion, Mr. Swift does not make any claims on the validity of the State Departments estimates.

That being said jobs estimates are just that, estimates. In attempting to estimate jobs created in support industries you can run into significant systematic errors, none the least of which is the to-be-determined suppliers percentage of American labor. Even if the project comes with a mandate to source all parts within the US (which I'm not sure it does), if no US supplier exists, it is obviously void. Needless to say the US does not hold too much of the market when it comes to the manufacture of high-reliability process controls (valves and electronics). Perhaps it would be pertinent to shift some of this discussion on jobs away from unsustainable industries like fossil fuels and towards modern US manufacturing that can support Americans for their lifetime, not a few months. As the article points out, we want jobs that support new industries, not old ones. That is unless you want a career and an economy that is as unsustainable as fossil fuels.

Disillusioned person with a brainAug 7 2013 06:50 AM

Galen, I appreciate you bringing rational thought to this discussion. I agree with you on some points and disagree with you on others.

But the nrdc is attempting to downplay the job creation aspect of the pipeline. If you don't think they are, then let's you and I just wait patiently for them th give an honest estimate of total job creation. It won't happen.

The long term estimates are also incorrect. They ignore the fact that there will also be contracted labor working on the pipeline every day. They ignore new jobs for the third party terminals at Cushing and Houston as well as their contract labor

I look forward to the day when we don't need oil anymore. But that day is decades away even with exponential growth of alternatives. So in the meantime, we need to maintain common sense.

Gerald QuindryAug 7 2013 09:21 AM

Isn't it a pity that a marginally-informed public is faced with the choice of believing nonsense from opponents or nonsense from the proponents? In Version 1.0 of this post (last week) Mr. Swift attempted to create a justification for the President's weighing in with nonsense that is in opposition to the pipeline, The very same tactic, in the opposite direction, as Galen rightfully criticizes, if used to justify the pipeline on the basis of job creation. (I personally have not seen inflated job creation numbers used as a justification, but it certainly may exist.) Mr. Swift did make claims on the validity of the President's remarks, which had been (rightfully, IMO), criticized by the Washington Post.

Efforts to oppose the development of Canadian oil resources by these tactics are bound to fail. Time is not on the side of the opponents. At some point in time, a more receptive or desperate public, and a more friendly administration, will provide the window of opportunity to permit construction to proceed. That was the history of the Alaska Pipeline. That was the history of a different,1,700-mile heavy crude pipeline I helped design in the '80s. At more than $100/barrel for oil, this pipeline, or a substitute transport method, will eventually prevail. Opponents can delay by these tactics, but not stop it.

Anthony SwiftAug 7 2013 10:05 AM

As Galen points out, these are the State Department’s publicly available job estimates, not mine. The long term estimate does include both permanent staff positions (35) and contractors (15). None of these estimates are mine – they are State’s based on information TransCanada provided them. These documents, part of the DSEIS, are publicly available and linked and cited to in the blog.

My previous post critiqued Washington Post’s assumption that the President’s numbers were based on a report by Cornell rather than the State Department. We now agree both on the numbers (50 permanent jobs and 3,950 person years of work) and the source (the State Department). WaPo still takes exception to dividing the person years of work over the time the project is built (2 years). Whether or not that’s the correct way to express those jobs, the reality is, it’s not a jobs creator on the national scale.

As for the larger issues around Keystone XL – the Permit decision determines whether we build this pipeline, not whether we build pipelines. And there’s a middle way between planning out our infrastructure to rely on increasing carbon intensive oil for the next century or going off of it cold turkey. And that means pursuing efficiency technologies and alternatives and we pick and chose the least carbon intensive fuels sources available to us. And tar sands don’t fit in that picture.

The climate can’t afford unrestricted development of the tar sands, and the United States doesn’t need the fuels source. If you don’t believe me, here’s an op-ed by a Canadian supporter of Keystone XL and tar sands articulating that reality from the other corner of the ring:

Gerald QuindryAug 7 2013 01:31 PM

Anthony, your link to the Globe and Mail doesn't work; at least it didn't for me. I did find the opinion piece though, and the key comment, in my opinion, is, "Endlessly debating the pros and cons of pipeline development will get us nowhere."

We need an energy policy. One that is not founded on magical thinking or on crony capitalism. Instead, we have debate over inconsequential side issues. But developing an energy policy that actually will work (as opposed to magical thinking about some future silver-bullet solution) would require political leadership and a smattering of technical expertise. Both seem to be in short supply.

Anthony SwiftAug 7 2013 02:31 PM

Hi Gerald -

I agree with you entirely. We do need an energy policy - a policy that could inform decisions on infrastructure, development and investment in a manner that meets our economic and environmental needs in both the short and long term. While we may or may not agree on exactly what that policy would look like, I think we can agree that that would be a better forum to be considering these issues.

But until we can get our lawmakers on board with that, we're left having to debate the merits of long term infrastrucutre projects in isolation.

And thanks for pointing out the broken link - the problem should be fixed.

Disillusioned person with a brainAug 7 2013 05:30 PM

Anthony, thank you for correcting my error about the ongoing jobs. But with respect to the temporary job creation, you do agree that the correct number is much larger than 4,000 when you count all labor and not just physical construction. Right? So what is an honest estimate of the true amount of labor that would result if the pipeline is built.

Michael BerndtsonAug 7 2013 05:38 PM

I couldn't follow the post and many of the comments. Here's a summary of the estimated Keystone XL jobs unions are going with. Probably a good number to keep in mind. I have no interest in this discussion since it is a side issue to the environmental impact - regardless what the OMB says. Put it this way, lots of jobs during construction. Some during operations and maintenance. It's silly to drag this issue into environmental protection.

Copied from the above referenced article:

The Project Labor Agreement is with the Laborers International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, AFL-CIO, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Pipeline Contractors Association.

“The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will have a significant impact on the North American economy through the thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs it is creating,” says Russ Girling, TransCanada president and chief executive officer. “This project is entirely paid for with private sector dollars and is shovel ready.”

“It’s our job to weld sections of Keystone Pipeline that will extend across several states and transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil daily for decades to come,” said William Hite, general president of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, AFL-CIO. “It’s the vision and competence of TransCanada in the U.S. that provides our skilled local workforce with the means to perform the trade they have been taught while contributing to their communities.”

An independent study estimates that during the life of the project, the Keystone XL project is expected to stimulate:

More than $20 billion in new spending for the U.S. economy;

More than 118,000 person-years of employment;

An increase of $6.5 billion in the personal income of Americans;

Increased gross output (product) of $9.6 billion; and

More than $585 million in state and local taxes in the states along the pipeline route.

Anthony SwiftAug 7 2013 06:40 PM

Yes, that’s from the Perryman study of the entire pipeline, which was commissioned by TransCanada (so not independent) and used a propriety (e.g. secret / unreplicatable) formula to calculate employment impacts. Included in those spinoff jobs created by the pipeline according to Perryman are:

51 dancers and choreographers
138 dentists
176 dental hygienists
100 librarians
510 bread bakers
448 clergy
154 stenographers
865 hairdressers
136 manicurists
110 shampooers
65 farmers
1,714 bartenders

It’s been fairly well debunked, which is why State doesn’t use it. State does include an analysis of the indirect jobs associated with the project based on general economic activity (e.g. folks spending money on food, housing, manufacturing, services, etc. and those people spending that money). I think that number is 42,000 person years. Of course, my mall estimates also didn’t include those indirect general economic activity multipliers, which would be similarly impressive. In addition, one has to remember 1) the actual pipe for KXL has already been manufactured and stockpiled along the route (with employment benefits that seem to have come and gone unnoticed) and 2) it’s inaccurate to assume that if TransCanada doesn’t spend the money it would borrow from the capital market, that money wouldn’t go to other investments which would also put money in the economy with indirect employment impacts.

But I agree with Mr. Berndtson’s point that the critical issue surrounding Keystone XL is not its employment figures, but rather whether it is a sound project from an environmental and particularly climate, perspective. And on those counts, it fails. We can and will meet our energy needs without incurring the carbon costs and other risks associated with Keystone XL.

Disillusioned person with a brainAug 7 2013 06:50 PM

Although I don't agree with it, I respect your opinion that you don't want the pipeline built. But it sounds like we are in agreement that the total number of jobs created is much, much higher than 4,000.

Thanks for the thoughtful replies.

Michael BerndtsonAug 7 2013 07:50 PM

I think the number of shampooers isn't the issue. These are pulled from someone's estimate good or bad. To jump into the nuts and bolts of a feasibility level economic impact study is kind of a waste of time.

The issue may include some if not most of the following: steel, pipeline, heavy equipment from Caterpillar, and a lot of trades to lay the pipe and operate the line. Obama has to consider this. Or just bypass the Keystone and build the line through Illinois. Bitumen's already going to Joliet, Il and Whiting, IN anyway.

I may be totally wrong here, but I believe the Chicago Infrastructure Trust needs a lot of investment money from union pension funds to get going. Didn't I read that somewhere here on Switchboard? Or maybe it was elsewhere.

The Disillusioned EnvironmentalistAug 8 2013 10:59 PM

Well Anthony, you seem to have abondonded a pointed and difficult discussion in favour of commenting your agreement with like minded folks.

Your approach of "every bit helps" seems to be completely lacking the structure of a strategy to transition away from fossil fuels. In fact, as I read more of the articles that you have written, your point of view seems incredibly narrow.

A shut everything down now approach is not a plan. Every time someone points that out it seems that you just take the same speach out of your back pocket and recite it.

Again, I ask, "Can you reply with any information that you might have on when renewables will be ready to displace fossile fuels on a $ per unit energy basis."

I remain,
The Disillusioned Environmentalist

Anthony SwiftAug 9 2013 10:33 AM

With all due respect, the question of when renewable will be ready to displace fossil fuels on a $ per unit energy basis oversimplifies what is a complex issue. Some renewable energies in some places, like wind and hydro, already have displaced fossil fuels on a $ per unit energy basis. Economies of scale continue to improve the economics of others. Photovoltaic energy has declined from over $76 per watt to $0.74 per watt over the last 25 years. Here’s the Economist’s take on this trend: .

Transportation fuels present both a generation and a storage issue, but advances are being made on both fronts – advances promoted by the new CAFÉ auto-efficiency standards which NRDC worked to get in place. The US has reduced its oil consumption by over 2 million bpd per year over the last eight years, a trend which can and will continue as we continue to implement more efficient technologies in vehicle manufacturing, alternative energy and smart growth.

And a point on cost comparisons – two challenges faced by renewable are 1) the fact that fossil fuels aren’t internalizing the costs of their carbon emissions and 2) there is an enormous sunk cost in fossil fuel infrastructure. Even with these disadvantages, renewable are becoming competitive. But we will have to pay the cost of climate change associated with fossil fuels (we are already beginning to pay it ) - so the fact that we’re not incorporating these costs in the pricetag is no real discount.

In the meanwhile, when it comes to which fossil fuels we develop, in a world with a limited carbon budget, it is only rational to permit the production of the least carbon intensive fuels available (assuming that all known fossil fuels cannot be produced - and we now know there is significantly more oil in the crust than we can afford to produce given the carbon that we can afford to emit). And even among different oil resources, tar sands are particularly carbon intensive. Production facilities face high start up costs, but once built, can produce for 50 years or more, so there is a greater lock-in problem. Unchecked expansion of the tar sands risks locking in the most carbon intensive transportation fuels into global oil feedstock for decades to come.

There is no question that this is a complicated problem. It will require a multifaceted solution. My perspective is not the ‘shut everything down’ approach as you suggest – nor is that an approach I advocate in my writings. But absent a comprehensive energy policy that internalizes these costs, we do need to focus on the impact of individual infrastructure projects like Keystone XL. It makes up about 5% of the currently proposed pipeline mileage in the US through 2017 – and we’re focusing on it because it does make a significant difference in our climate emissions. If you think that it doesn’t solve the problem entirely, you’re right. But no step taken in isolation will. However, as every marathon runner knows, each step is important.

The Dissilutioned EnvironmentalistAug 10 2013 05:27 PM

Thanks for the reply Anthony,

I beg to differ on your first statement. When renewables will be ready to replace fossil fuels is at the core of the issue.

I do want to make one thing clear. You and I agree on a few things and I just want to make sure that you understand that. I believe that we must reduce the levels of CO2 emissions that occur on this planet as they are a direct cause of the greenhouse effect and a contributor to climate change. We believe that the use of fossil fuels is by far the major contributor to CO2 emissions by humans. I don't disagree with you on that.
One thing that your referenced web sites don't adress is timing. Of course directionally renewables are getting cheaper, but overlaid on what energy humanity needs and will need moving into the future, there is no indication of when renewables become a reasonable replacement. 5yrs, 10yrs, 20yrs.
For example, when we see $0.74/watt, thats great! But in terms of energy generation thats an instantaneous peak rating. Even in the best of climates, the best you will get is the equivalent of 8 decent generating hours. What about the cost of power storage for off hours? So tell me what the cost per kw-hr would be if brought to commercial scale. Tell me the cost for communities further north or with fewer sunny days.

This is at the core of the issue. So many people are trying to make ends meet these days. Energy that is the equivalent of $200/bbl oil is not sustainable.
In a scenario where oil and gasoline were taxed to such a high level that renewables then become comparable, although they are the type of fuels that we would like to eventually see, the hit on the avergae consumer, the small business owner, and the manufacturer in this country would be devastating ( as it has been in the past).

We agree that in a world with a limited carbon budget it is only rational to permit production of the least carbon intensive fuels available. We agree that tarsands are particularly carbon intensive.
Then I ask you why we aren't publicly flogging our own Kern River California Heavy oil which is more carbon intensive that tarsands? Why aren't we blockading similarly dirty Venezuelan heavy oil tankers from docking at our refineries in the gulf coast? The world runs on 9Mbpd of heavy oil and you want to stop the Canadian version of it?
I am left wondering if you have a secondary agenda because the argument that you are giving me to support stopping this pipeline is very weak. There is no indication that this is part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce global CO2. It looks like a symbolic (your words) and easy target (Canadians) to do very little to solve the problem.

You say that it makes a significant difference. Explain this.

We are wasting so much time on this issue. We are losing our big chance to capture our fellow citizens imaginations in pursuing this Keystone argument which is so full of holes that most people are starting to see through it.
Keystone is about energy price, energy security, and CO2. Not jobs.

So I say this as a true environmentalist and someone that truely is looking out for my childrens future....
Work towards renewables technology. Work towards conservation. But build these pipelines.
Don't attain our target by blasting our economy into the stone-age.

I remain,
The Disillusioned Environmentalist

Let It BeAug 10 2013 06:40 PM

Ummmm, excuse me - I am obviously "not as intelligent" as the writers and commenters here, however, I would like to chime in. We as Americans will take any "blip on the jobs radar" that can contribute to our health and wealth. Our elite government believes that we must either be on the dole... or be an elite like them. These little blips on the jobs radar contribute to the overall middle class. If we had more elites focusing on the blips on the jobs radar - we just may be in a better position than we currently are in the US. This article shows - once again - how an agenda (disapproval of fossil fuels) taints policy. The overwhelming consensus by Americans is build the damn pipeline. We will take jobs where we can get them and leave us to our fossil fuels - when other forms of energy can stand and compete on their own - well guess what... they will stand and compete on their own.

The Dissilutioned EnvironmentalistAug 10 2013 07:07 PM

Good Post Let It Be,

As a working stiff myself, I am very sensitive to that. When I said this is not about jobs.... I misrepresented my feelings on this. I do think the jobs that will come from this pipeline are important. My coments were more directed at not losing even more jobs at the expense of higher energy costs.

Disillusioned person with a brainAug 10 2013 10:04 PM

Let It Be--Excellent post. The thing is, no individual project is more than just a blip. But a lot of blips add up to a lot of jobs.

Environmentalist--Not sure what you are saying. Building Keystone will not cause energy prices to go up. Building the pipeline is the equivalent of increasing supply. Increasing supply makes prices go down. The price of Canadian oil will go up, but the price of other oils will go down. You want to know what makes oil prices go up? Moving oil by train because environmentalists get in the way of building pipelines.

The Dissilutioned EnvironmentalistAug 11 2013 12:00 PM

Person with a brain,
That is definitely not what I'm saying (I re read my previus posts to make sure that I wasn't conveying that).
Building the pipeline would cause energy prices not to go up (as fast).
I support building the pipeline for that (and other) reasons.

My stance is that stoping an oil pipeline boils down to not demanding the oil as consumers. And not demanding the oil as consumers requires either further conservation or the existance of an economic alternative.

Anthony SwiftAug 11 2013 01:04 PM

I do try to engage with folks who are interested in having a discussion in good faith on these issues.

However, I can’t help but notice that this discussion seems to involve several folks commenting from the same location. It also appears that the disillusioned environmentalist is commenting from Calgary, Alberta – the headquarters of many of the companies that stand to benefit from tar sands expansion associated with Keystone XL – rather than as a concerned US citizen, as his/her comments represent. While we welcome all perspectives – including those from folks working in the tar sands industry –we do ask that they represent their viewpoints fairly and honestly.

As for matters of fact, I should note that the review of Keystone XL to date has shown that the pipeline will increase oil prices in the Midwest and the Rockies, but will have an insignificant impact on global oil prices. If someone starts taking buckets of water from a bathtub and throwing them into an Olympic size pool, the bathtub will start to visibly empty long before the Olympic sized pool starts to overflow…

Comments are closed for this post.


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