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Washington Post Article Admits Keystone XL Jobs are a Pipe Dream
In an explosive story posted online in the Washington Post on Nov. 5, pipeline company TransCanada admitted that it has grossly misrepresented the number of jobs the controversial Keystone XL project would create.
The 20,000 jobs involved in pipeline construction? A fabrication supported by misleading mathematics. The 250,000 indirect jobs? A number based on one oil-industry funded study that counted jobs for “dancers, choreographers and speech therapists,” according to the Washington Post.
“Thank heavens some reporter actually questioned this jobs number, instead of just repeating it,” said Bill McKibben, who is leading a major protest against Keystone XL on Nov. 6 at the White House. “The only study not paid for by the pipeline company makes clear that there are no net jobs from this pipeline because it will kill as many as it will create.”
Lawmakers, Republican presidential candidates and the media have repeated TransCanada’s claim that the Keystone XL project would create 20,000 new jobs if approved–13,000 from direct construction and 7,000 from supply manufacturers. The Washington Post shows both numbers to be inaccurate, quoting TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling, “Girling said Friday that the 13,000 figure was ‘one person, one year,’ meaning that if the construction jobs lasted two years, the number of people employed would be only 6,500.”
The 20,000 jobs involved in pipeline construction? A fabrication supported by misleading mathematics. The 250,000 indirect jobs? A number based on one oil-industry funded study that counted jobs for “dancers, choreographers and speech therapists,” according to the Post.
“Thank heavens some reporter actually questioned this jobs number, instead of just repeating it,” said Bill McKibben, who is leading a major protest against Keystone XL this Sunday at the White House. “The only study not paid for by the pipeline company makes clear that there are no net jobs from this pipeline because it will kill as many as it will create.”
Lawmakers, Republican presidential candidates, and the media have repeated TransCanada’s claim that the Keystone XL project would create 20,000 new jobs if approved–13,000 from direct construction and 7,000 from supply manufacturers. The Post shows both numbers to be inaccurate, quoting TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling: “Girling said Friday that the 13,000 figure was ‘one person, one year,’ meaning that if the construction jobs lasted two years, the number of people employed would be only 6,500.”
The manufacturing jobs are also misleading. The company has already purchased $1.9 billion on pipe and other materials. Of the money still to be spent, the Post and Cornell report both concluded that the majority would go overseas. At least $1.7 billion worth of steel will be purchased from a Russian-owned mill in Canada. TransCanada claims the remainder will be produced in Arkansas. The company’s first Keystone pipeline was built almost entirely with foreign steel imported from India and Canada.
In fact, in the only jobs study not funded by TransCanada, the Cornell Global Labor Institute concluded that any jobs stemming from the pipeline’s construction were likely be outweighed by the environmental damage it caused, along with a possible rise in Midwest gasoline prices because a new pipeline would divert that region’s current oversupply of oil to the Gulf Coast.
President Obama told a Nebraska TV station on Nov. 1 that he would make the final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by balancing the potential job benefits against health and environmental concerns. “I think folks in Nebraska, like all across the country, aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘we’ll take a few thousand jobs’ if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or if … rich land that is so important to agriculture in Nebraska ends up being adversely affected,” he said.
With the job benefits up in smoke, pipeline opponents are confident that if the President sticks to his calculus, the only plausible option is to deny the pipeline permit. On Nov. 6, more than 10,000 people are expected to encircle the White House to show the President Obama he has the support he needs to stand up to Big Oil and say no to Keystone XL.
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.