Monday, July 29, 2013

President Speaks Out On Keystone XL Pipeline

Jul 27: In a far-reaching interview with President Obama conducted by Jackie Calmes and Michael D. Shear of The New York Times. The interview was conducted at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., on July 24, 2013. The interview covers a number of key issues facing the country but also touches on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline issue. The following is the excerpt on the pipeline issue:

NYT: A couple other quick subjects that are economic-related. Keystone pipeline -- Republicans especially talk about that as a big job creator. You've said that you would approve it only if you could be assured it would not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon in the atmosphere. Is there anything that Canada could do or the oil companies could do to offset that as a way of helping you to reach that decision?

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. So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can't ship some of that oil to world markets.
Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I meant what I said; I'm going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.
NYT: And if they did, could that offset the concerns about the pipeline itself?
MR. OBAMA: We haven't seen specific ideas or plans. But all of that will go into the mix in terms of John Kerry's decision or recommendation on this issue.   
    Representative Lee Terry (R-NE), author of legislation in the House of Representatives that would approve the Keystone Pipeline, issued a statement in reaction to President Obama's interview with The New York Times saying, "The president conveniently chooses to ignore the construction jobs from steel, fabrication, and the rest of the jobs that would be created by our nation of builders if he would just approve the Keystone Pipeline. He also conveniently chooses to ignore the March draft EIS from his own State Department that said Keystone could create upwards of 42,000 jobs.

    "As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, my committee heard from the Obama Administration's own witness who testified before us that direct foreign investment from companies like TransCanada has dropped sharply in recent years. Down from 45% in 1980s, the world's direct foreign investment in the U.S. is now only 17%. Just like the President is doing to TransCanada and our nation's number one trading partner, he is telling the world that America is closed for business and we don't want your investments in our country or the jobs they would create".

    "With over 1,700 days of delays, the President is insulting Canada by saying that he needs to learn more about the project. What more could he learn after over 15,500 pages of reviews? In my opinion, the President now has zero credibility when he speaks about infrastructure projects creating jobs. What will it take for our president to focus on job creation and not job killing? President Obama needs to spend more time working with Republicans in Congress rather than traveling around the country reciting the environmental left's talking points and giving speeches that don't hire."   

    WIMS previously reported on a study by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute entitled, Pipe Dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL, provides an in-depth look at the numbers and the uncertainty surrounding many of estimates [See WIMS 1/6/12]. The 40-page paper indicates, "The purpose of this briefing paper is to examine claims made by TransCanada Corporation and the American Petroleum Institute that, if constructed, TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline will generate enough employment to kick-start important sections of the US economy through the creation of tens of thousands -- perhaps even hundreds of thousands -- of good, well-paying jobs for American workers." That report indicated, "The project will create no more than 2,500-4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years, according to TransCanada's own data supplied to the State Department."

    The 40-page, detailed analysis also indicated that, "almost half (and perhaps more) of the primary material input for KXL -- steel pipe -- will not even be produced in the United States; [and] based on the experience of Phases 1 and 2, the final processing work for KXL will probably be performed in the US with most of the steel and pipe sourced from outside of the US (notably India and South Korea)." Thee report indicates that the claim of more than 20,000 high-wage manufacturing jobs and construction jobs "is misleading and erroneous on a number of levels."

    Access the complete interview text published in the NYT (click here). Access a release from Rep. Terry (click here). Access the complete Cornell paper (click here). Access the State Department KXL website for more information (click here). [Energy/KXL]