Think Progress: Fact Check: Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Isn’t A Job Creator

-By Brad Johnson

November 4, 2011- 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.


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