Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Keystone jobs

I keep hearing people saying Obama still might approve Keystone. And who knows. But he's sure not sounding like he's going to do it at moments like this:

If [Congressional Republicans have] got a better plan to create jobs rebuilding our infrastructure or to help workers earn the high-tech skills they need, then they should offer up these ideas. But I’ve got to tell you, just gutting our environmental protection, that’s not a jobs plan. Gutting investments in education, that’s not a jobs plan. You know, they keep on talking about an oil pipeline coming down from Canada that’s estimated to create about 50 permanent jobs. That’s not a jobs plan.
That was a speech he gave yesterday. Obama gets the 50 number from a Cornell study that says this on job creation:
In this context, it is also important to consider that almost all of the jobs (direct, indirect
and induced) associated with Keystone XL will, of course, also be temporary. The operating
costs for KXL are very minimal, and based on the figures provided by TransCanada for the
Canadian section of the pipeline, the new permanent US pipeline jobs in the US number
as few as 50. The other operating expenditures (for materials, supplies, services, electric
power, property taxes, etc.) would comprise the bulk of operating expenses and would also
have some job impacts. So considering a broad range of spin-offs, operating expenditures
would have job impacts in the order of around 1,000 per year.

It is unfortunate that the numbers generated by TransCanada, the industry, and the
Perryman study have been subject to so little scrutiny, because they clearly inflate the
projections for the numbers of direct, indirect, and long-term induced jobs that KXL might
expect to create. What is being offered by the proponents is advocacy to build support for
KXL, rather than serious research aimed to inform public debate and responsible decision
making. By repeating inflated numbers, the supporters of KXL approval are doing an
injustice to the American public in that expectations are raised for jobs that simply cannot be
met. These numbers—hundreds of thousands of jobs!—then get packaged as if KXL were a
major jobs program capable of registering some kind of significant impact on unemployment
levels and the overall economy. This is plainly untrue.
Current Canadian government advertising that can be seen on U.S. websites is touting 40,000 plus jobs that the pipeline will support during a two year construction period. More on that advertising, said to total about $16 million, here.