President Obama recently gave a wide-ranging interview to the New York Times, in which the topic of the Keystone pipeline was rehashed. In it, the President mocked the idea that Keystone could be a job creator as Republicans have touted, because those jobs would be temporary construction positions.
MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.
NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.
MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially. But that is a blip relative to the need.
A blip relative to the need? Two things here…
First, odd that the President would laugh and joke about the prospect of creating temporary jobs, when the entirety of his first term was predicated solely on the concept of creating temporary jobs to boost stats in a recession, by way of the stimulus. Remember the “Summer of Recovery?” The very recovery itself was temporary.
A 2010 report in the Wall Street Journal provides some insight into this. When multiple billions of dollars were being spent on environmental cleanup projects using stimulus money, a good portion were designed to stimulate the economy immediately, creating a slew of temporary job opportunities.
“… projects that employ people quickly are often considered ‘low-hanging fruit’ and can fail to set the stage for long-term economic growth.”
In other words, money was being shoveled into projects that served as little more than a short-term Band-Aid on a long-term wound.
The stimulus was such an utter disaster for creating long-term employment, that one company in particular, CH2M Hill, took to using a Department of Energy ploy to inflate job numbers – they counted a completely fabricated metric known as “lives touched.”
That same company ended up losing jobs overall after their stimulus money dried up.
And now to the second, and perhaps more important point – the President is completely wrong about Keystone providing less than 100 jobs. Because, well, math is hard.
If completed, the Keystone XL pipeline would have a significant, positive impact on U.S. jobs and growth. The pipeline would certainly provide contracting jobs during construction as the President states, but what he ignores completely are the well-paid energy sector jobs that would be created once operational.
A study by the Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC), finds that Keystone XL alone could contribute $20 billion to the U.S. economy, while the transportation and processing of Canadian oil sands would inject another $100 – $600 million annually.
Jobs-wise, TransCanada estimates that roughly 13,000 construction jobs would be created almost immediately, a far cry above the 2,000 that Obama stated. Even so, another study from the Canadian Energy Research Institute indicates that full utilization of the Canadian oil sands could support as many as 600,000 new American jobs by 2035.
Bottom line: A President who sang the praises of temporary job creation under his economic stimulus plan, should not be turning his nose up at the prospect of creating thousands of construction jobs via approval of the Keystone pipeline. And he most certainly shouldn’t be discussing job numbers by the dozens when multiple studies have shown the economic benefits of the project ranging in the tens of thousands of jobs created.
The President needs to stop lying to a clear majority of Americans – at 70% – who say build the pipeline, simply to satiate a handful of far-left eco-extremists who oppose its construction.