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Josh Mogerman’s Blog

Where Are the Myth Busters? Keystone XL Job Number Wildly Inflated In Quest for Dangerous Pipeline

Josh Mogerman

Posted November 10, 2011 in Curbing Pollution, Solving Global Warming, The Media and the Environment

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Maddeningly, like a ton of issues that we work on, the Keystone XL pipeline debate has been boiled down to jobs vs. the environment in the media repeatedly. The pipelines proponents have told a shovel-ready story that has been picked up all over the place. And that is a shame, because if the commentators, Presidential candidates, and others bloviating about Keystone XL jobs bothered to look into the issue, they would see some very telling, ugly stuff. At best, the numbers have been overblown. And at worst, they point to an ugly, cynical effort to take advantage of our current economic state…

First off, I say numbers because the estimates have changed. It wasn’t that long ago that pipeline backers claimed 200,000 new American jobs would be created by the pipeline. The number has been scaled back to the oft-repeated 20,000 still being used in talking points now. Guess what. It is bunk. 

But don’t take my word for it. Try some of these folks:

Let’s be clear, this country needs jobs. I don’t want to imply that adding 5,000 temporary jobs is not a good thing---but this has been one of the major selling points of the project. If its backers were serious about creating jobs in this country, why not push on TransCanada (the pipeline builder) to buy American steel? Orders for 1700 miles of pipe would probably be a pretty big economic impact in some of the country’s hurting steel towns and might help to assuage fears up and down the pipeline route about spills. But alas, the sourcing for this pipeline and the previous Keystone 1 line seems to have come entirely from foreign sources.

So it is clear that those job numbers are puffed up. But that hasn’t stopped folks from repeating them. It seems depressingly cynical to be playing this game with America’s job-hungry public to me. But short of getting the MYTHBUSTERS on the job, I don’t think it will stop. Adam and Jaime, your nation needs you!

Update: CNN posted this doozy interview with a TransCanada exec who admits that permanent jobs would only number "in the hundreds, certainly not in the thousands" from Montana down to Houston. Not quite the massive meal ticket that was advertised, eh? [Hat tip to Media Matters.]

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Comments

suewNov 13 2011 10:39 AM

"The number has been scaled back to the oft-repeated 20,000 still being used in talking points now. Guess what. It is bunk. "
Is bunk a new jouralism term or a term used in coffee shop circles.

Not a lot (if any) factual info in this articile.
How do you come by your figures. If you knew anything you would realize that we are not just talking about jobs on the actually pipeline but jobs related to the pipeline so how the nrcd comes by their stats is wishy washy.

But hey here's a little known fact for you - Beinecke gets 280,000 per year and John Adams (the founding father) gets over 750,000 per year. More than a unemployed person in America wouldn't you say.

Josh MogermanNov 13 2011 11:23 AM

suew, normally I thank commenters for taking the time to read my blog post and share their thoughts. However, since it is clear you did not bother to read it, I will reiterate---these are not NRDC numbers. The Washington Post, Cornell, economists who support the project and even TransCanada executives have all directly and indirectly contradicted the job claims that are out there on this project. The links are on the post.

We have a massive job problem in this country. We need jobs and lots of them. That is why selling this project as a massive job producer, when it is in fact not, is so offensive. These folks should be buying American steel. And they should not be running the line in a way that threatens a significant amount of the ag industry in the Plains states, threatening an array of existing jobs.

suewNov 13 2011 12:19 PM

I don't need any thanks from you but let me thank you for glossing over the salary earnings of your bosses.

I did read your article and let's be honest anything on these blogs is purely biased reporting. But thanks for taking the time to reply.

suewNov 13 2011 12:26 PM

"These folks should be buying American steel. And they should not be running the line in a way that threatens a significant amount of the ag industry in the Plains states, threatening an array of existing jobs."

Could you be more specific on the threat to existing ag jobs because I believe the more serious threat to jobs in America is America itself and org. such as the NRDC. Have a nice day!

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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