This look at the job claims related to the Keystone XL pipeline is a guest post from the thoughtful Patriot News Daily Clearinghouse.
One big spin to promote the TransCanada XL tar sands pipeline is that it would create lots of jobs. So, there are headlines like this:
TransCanada and its right wing allies claim the pipeline will create 13,000 – 553,000 jobs. The State Department says only 5,000-6,000 jobs will be created over a 3-year construction period. The vast difference in job projections is because TransCanada and its allies rely upon small print qualifiers for their math. So much so, that TransCanada even included lawyerly disclaimers in a press release citing creation of 13,000 jobs.
How many jobs? Some reports say “20,000 direct high-wage jobs.” The American Petroleum Institute (API) claims “U.S. jobs supported by Canadian oil sands development could grow from 21,000 jobs today to 465,000 jobs by 2035,” a guesstimate based on continued development of tar sands, and not limited to this pipeline.
Job numbers by TransCanada are all over the place:
But yet again, TransCanada’s claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. In 2008, a report included in TransCanada’s Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL to the State Department said they anticipate “a peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline. In 2010, TransCanada put out a press release that said, “During construction, Keystone XL would create 13,000 jobs and further produce 118,000 spin-off jobs.” In 2011, TransCanada put out a fact sheet that said Keystone XL would “create about 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs.” Of course, none of these estimates accounted for the jobs losses that would result from increasing America’s fuel bill by $4 billion per year.
More than two million American construction workers — nearly one in five — are currently unemployed. Factories that produce building materials are operating at only half their capacity. So when a private company proposes a project that it claims will spur the creation of 118,000 new jobs, it is hardly surprising that unions representing construction, transportation, and related workers pricked up their ears.
The Perryman Group did a job analysis for TransCanada. The 2010 report states:
1. “Under “normal” oil price assumptions equivalent to the average for all of 2007,The Perryman Group found the gains in US business activity stemming from a permanent increase in stable oil supplies to include $100.144 billion in total spending, $29.048 billion in output, and 250,348 permanent jobs.”
2. “In the high-price case in which costs per barrel reach the peak levels observed in the summer of 2008, The Perryman Group measured the annual impact of an increase in stable oil supplies associated with the Keystone XL Pipeline Project to include $221.305 billion in spending, $64.193 billion in output, and 553,235 jobs.”
Construction of the proposed Project, including the pipeline and pump stations, would result in hiring approximately 5,000 to 6,000 workers over the three year construction period.
The results of the Perryman Group study vary from those within the draft EIS for several reasons. The draft EIS assessed proposed Project economic benefits over an assumed 50-year project lifetime whereas the Perryman study assessed benefits over an assumed 100-year project lifetime.
Why did Perryman double the life of the XL pipeline project? The Final EIS states that the project life is 50 years.
Another difference is the Perryman Group included indirect job creation.
The Perryman Group figures added in estimates for “indirect job creation.” How reliable are these figures? Take just one example: The State Department, based on figures supplied by TransCanada, said that the pipeline would create 938-1560 construction jobs in Nebraska. The Perryman Group study claimed that this would create 7,551 “indirect” jobs, including more than 800 retail jobs. So every every pipeline worker is expected to create from one-half to one full job for a retail worker!
Even TransCanada does not appear to believe its statements. In its own press release of September 2010, it claimed its pipeline would create “over 13,000 new jobs” and “more than $20 billion in new spending for the U.S. economy” and “more than $585 million in state and local taxes in the states along the pipeline route.” However, its press release included huge caveats filled with lawyer speak to cover its ass:
TRANSCANADA FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATIONThis news release may contain certain information that is forward looking and is subject to important risks and uncertainties. The words “anticipate”, “expect”, “believe”, “may”, “should”, “estimate”, “project”, “outlook”, “forecast” or other similar words are used to identify such forward-looking information. Forward-looking statements in this document are intended to provide TransCanada securityholders and potential investors with information regarding TransCanada and its subsidiaries, including management’s assessment of TransCanada’s and its subsidiaries’ future financial and operations plans and outlook. Forward-looking statements in this document may include, among others, statements regarding the anticipated business prospects and financial performance of TransCanada and its subsidiaries, expectations or projections about the future, and strategies and goals for growth and expansion. All forward-looking statements reflect TransCanada’s beliefs and assumptions based on information available at the time the statements were made. Actual results or events may differ from those predicted in these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations include, among others, the ability of TransCanada to successfully implement its strategic initiatives and whether such strategic initiatives will yield the expected benefits, the operating performance of TransCanada’s pipeline and energy assets, the availability and price of energy commodities, capacity payments, regulatory processes and decisions, changes in environmental and other laws and regulations, competitive factors in the pipeline and energy sectors, construction and completion of capital projects, labour, equipment and material costs, access to capital markets, interest and currency exchange rates, technological developments and the current economic conditions in North America. By its nature, forward looking information is subject to various risks and uncertainties, which could cause TransCanada’s actual results and experience to differ materially from the anticipated results or expectations expressed. Additional information on these and other factors is available in the reports filed by TransCanada with Canadian securities regulators and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Readers are cautioned to not place undue reliance on this forward looking information, which is given as of the date it is expressed in this news release or otherwise, and to not use future-oriented information or financial outlooks for anything other than their intended purpose. TransCanada undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
Well, the 13,000 jobs figure cited in this press release was also cited in testimony before Congress on May 23, 2011 by a union official.
Specifically, it is expected to create approximately 13,000 high-quality, good-paying construction jobs.1
What is footnote #1, the source for this statement? A December 23, 2010 TransCanada press release that did not include any of those caveats.
Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, looked at the estimate of 20,000 jobs for which 80% would be American jobs, finding it would be less than 2 days of job creation:
If the pipeline’s sponsor’s job estimate is taken at face value, it implies that the pipeline would create 16,000 jobs in the United States. This would be less than 2 days of job creation at the late 90s’ pace of 3 million a year.
If 16,000 US jobs is equivalent to less than 2 days of job creation, what would it be for 5,000-6,000 actual jobs?
Are 5,000 jobs worth the 82% greater GHG emissions from Canadian tar sands crude as compared to average crude refined in the US?
Are 5,000 jobs worth razing ancient boreal forests and creating miles of toxic tailings ponds that pollute downstream waters of indigenous communities, raising concerns about elevated cancer rates?
Are 5,000 jobs worth the possible 12 spills a year from the pipeline? TransCanada predicted spills of 1 every 7 years for its existing pipeline, which has had 12 spills in less than 1 year or more than the estimated spill rate for XL in 50 years of 11 spills.
Are 5,000 jobs worth subjecting over 1,000 rivers and streams to the risk of spills, harming water supplies, ecosystems and wildlife?
Are 5,000 jobs worth risking harm to wildlife? Wildlife at risk include the Sandhill Cranes. For millions of years, a half million Sandhill Cranes migrate to Nebraska each year. This video shows the beautiful migration of some of the 200,000 cranes along a 70-mile stretch of the Platte River:
We don’t want to wait until we see the aftermath of spills on waters, people, economy, environment, and wildlife or face cleaning up the spills that TransCanada says just won’t happen even though the spills have been occurring for 1 year with a similarly constructed pipeline.