Is Obama a jobs killer because he vetoed Keystone XL pipeline until after the election?
Here’s the scoop:
Despite claims to the contrary, TransCanada, the corporation behind the pipeline, is not even remotely interested in employing American workers. This so-called energy security conduit from the Land of the Maple Leaf is in fact an export pipeline that will transport heavy crude from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas to be shipped mostly to South America and Europe. There might be a little oil that makes it to consumers in the US, but most of it will go abroad and will not make gas any cheaper for Americans. In fact, prices will go up .20 a gallon because the pipeline will relieve the bottleneck in the Midwest, thus forcing consumers to buy higher-priced Gulf Coast oil instead.
- On its website, Trans Canada promises 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs that will “increase the personal income of American workers” by $6.5 billion. A little research reveals that this couldn’t possibly happen. Pipeline construction is not manufacturing-intensive, so there will not be that many jobs to start with, but even so, TransCanada is not favoring the U.S. in its hiring. Approximately one half of the steel will be produced here but the rest will be manufactured abroad, e.g. India and Russian factories in Canada. What about construction jobs? Remember, this is a pipeline. There is very little on-site building involved. Only 15% of the promised 20,000 are likely to be local construction jobs – between 41 and 113 in Kansas, 156 and 470 in Texas — and they will not have the kind of security workers need to raise a family. When they were building the pipeline up in Canada, these jobs were temporary (two years) and had no significant impact on the communities where the work was done, i.e. no spinoffs. Existing medical facilities were found to be sufficient, and workers’ families were not expected to relocate.
- If anything, it is this project that is likely to be the jobs killer. If Keystone goes through, it will have a chilling effect on private and public sector employers who see themselves as pioneers of the green economy. The Green Chamber of Commerce and Green Business Network (5000 enterprises) agree that KXL will impede progress towards any kind of sustainable renewal. Private investors always look to see which way the wind is blowing, and if they think the government is working on the other side, green investors will be discouraged from providing capital for clean energy projects. Furthermore, the transport of tar sands oil across the US would send a clear message that Obama does not want to be a leader in the global effort to fight climate change.
- Those who accuse Obama of killing jobs have it completely backwards. On this issue, it’s not Obama who is the jobs killer. It’s Keystone. A recent Political Economy Research Institute study shows that oil generates one fourth the number of jobs created by renewables. Because green infrastructure is less capital intensive, it is more labor intensive and stimulates local industry and services.
If you want jobs, vote for clean, renewable energy!
About the Author: Laurel Thompson is a retired teacher, activist, and lives in Montreal.