October 11, 2011

Cornell Professors Say XL Pipeline May Stall U.S. Job Creation

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The creation of the Keystone XL Pipeline may kill more United States jobs than it creates, according to a recent publication from Cornell’s Global Labor Institute. Their finding contradicts the claims of oil companies that the proposed pipeline — which has been criticized by environmentalists — will spur economic growth.

The construction of the pipeline, which would transport oil from tar sands near Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Department of State. According to statements by the TransCanada Corporation and the American Petroleum Institute, pipeline construction would spur growth in certain sectors of the United States economy.

But in the Global Labor Institute report, entitled “Pipe Dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL,” Cornell researchers disagreed with the claim made by TransCanada, the company planning the construction, and supporters of the pipeline that its construction would stimulate the U.S. economy.

“The industry’s claim that [the pipeline] will create 119,000 total jobs … is based on a flawed and poorly documented study commissioned by TransCanada,” the report states. “[The pipeline] will not be a major source of US jobs, nor will it play any substantial role at all in putting Americans back to work.”

The ILR report argues that while the overall budget for the project is $7 billion, the actual budget for U.S. jobs is approximately $3 to $4 billion, since a large portion has already been allocated to material and labor in Canada.

According to TransCanada data supplied to the State Department, the project will create between 2,500 and 4,560 construction jobs in the U.S. An earlier claim from the company stated that 20,000 jobs would be generated.

According to the Global Labor Institute study, most of the steel for the pipeline will be produced in Canada, not in the United States.

Reed Steberger ’12, co-president of KyotoNow!, lauded the study and said that TransCanada is “perpetuating a myth of jobs creation based on inflated and outright false statistics — in other words, on bad math.

“[GLI] has led the way in building labor-environment collations and their study once again shows that union jobs and green jobs are closely tied and form a foundation for economic recovery and American prosperity,” Steberger said in an email. “We really can’t talk about green jobs if we’re not talking about union jobs.”

Some, however, have disputed Cornell’s report, which has been supported by Sean Sweeney, director of the GLI.

“This ‘study’ is deeply flawed … Sweeney points to an existing pipeline in Kansas as evidence that there won’t be much job creation there. In fact, the Keystone XL pipeline will connect with that pipeline. Building that connection will require a great deal of labor and jobs,” Matt Koch, a writer for ChamberPost, the blog of the Chamber of Commerce, wrote in a recent editorial. “Keystone XL requires 29 pump stations, each needing at least 100 workers, and each of the pipeline’s 17 spreads requires at least 500 workers. Apparently math is not a specialty at Cornell.”

Still, the GLI report cites problems with pipeline construction and jobs that fall beyond raw data, including the chance of oil spills. Additionally, the report states that the Keystone XL Pipeline is hindering the transition to a green and sustainable economy.

“The industry has ignored or dismissed fears that KXL will have a serious impact on our environment and our economy through inland spills, spills into freshwater supplies … or increases in greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution,” the report states.

Original Author: Rebekah Foster