The Republican Party now controls the legislative branch of the U.S. government, but even before they were sworn in, they had made their priorities for the country clear. They want the Keystone XL Pipeline to become a reality.
Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming appeared on Meet The Press to push the pipeline by quoting misleading and dishonest industry talking points: “[Obama’s] own State Department said it’s 42,000 new jobs…He’s going to have to decide between jobs and the extreme supporters of not having the pipeline.”
Barrasso is playing fast and loose with the facts here. As we pointed out years ago, the job numbers used to sell the pipeline are completely fabricated. For example, his claim that the State Department estimates 42,000 jobs from the pipeline has no basis in reality. The State Department has said that the pipeline will only create about 35 permanent U.S. jobs.
The 42,000 number that Barrasso is throwing around is based on the total number of direct and indirect permanent and temporary jobs that are estimated to be created by the pipeline. Almost all of these jobs would disappear within the span of 2 years.
But even if the 42,000 figure were accurate, it isn’t a substantial gain for the United States. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. economy adds an average of 50,000 new jobs every single week, so an $8 billion pipeline that traverses some of the most delicate environmental areas of the country is hardly worth the economic and environmental costs.
A recent Cornell University study has even more bad news about Keystone XL’s job creation potential:
50% or more of the steel pipe, the main material input used for Keystone XL, will be manufactured outside of the U.S.
Jobs will be temporary and between 85-90% of the people hired to do the work will be non-local or from out of state.
Job losses would be caused by additional fuel costs in the Midwest, pipeline spills, pollution and the rising costs of climate change. Even one year of fuel price increases as a result of Keystone XL could cancel out some or all of the jobs created by the project.
This is a point that most of the media has missed: Even those temporary jobs won’t necessarily be American laborers, as construction can be done at a far cheaper price overseas with overseas materials.
But Barrasso isn’t alone in his efforts to force the Keystone XL pipeline on the American public. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he hopes to have a Keystone bill to the floor of the Senate by the end of the first week of this new session.
Shortly after the midterm elections, Republicans in the then-Democratic controlled Senate brought a Keystone approval bill to a full vote where it failed.
With a filibuster-proof majority in favor of the project, it would appear that facts and reality and dangers aren’t enough to stop the industry-controlled House and Senate from trying to ram through the Canadian tar sands export pipeline.
However, the fevered push for Keystone XL does not necessarily guarantee that it will become a reality. Shortly after the announcement of the Senate’s plans, President Barack Obama made it clear that he would issue a veto of the bill if it arrives at the White House. This is a huge victory for the United States, and it marks the first time that the President has taken a firm stance on either side of the pipeline project.
DeSmog will keep a close eye on this as the Congress continues its efforts to ram through Keystone XL next week with the Senate vote.