The Keystone Pipeline Great Debate

Will Keystone Create Jobs or Not?

The debate about how many or even whether or not the great Keystone Oil Pipeline project will create jobs is on.

Republicans Say Yes

Republican legislators want to tie the forging ahead with the pipeline to the payroll-tax cut, insisting that the project will create jobs, as many as 20,000.

Other law makers beg to differ, some even saying that the pipeline project could ultimately lose jobs for Americans.

When, and if, the Keystone pipeline is ever built, it will be 1,700 miles long, extending from Canada’s oil sands area in Alberta all the way to US refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Obama Waiting

President Obama has been hesitating on the pipeline, saying he wants a thorough review of the environmental impact the project will have. Republicans want to push forward with it, making it an added incentive for them to approve and extension of the payroll-tax break and federal unemployment insurance benefits. The House already passed a bill on Tuesday linking the tax cuts to approval of Keystone.

TransCanada (TRP) is the company that desires to construct the pipeline. According to them Keystone will create 20,000 “direct” jobs. They say there will be 13,000 construction jobs and an additional 7,000 jobs making things like pump houses and the pipe.

Watch the Numbers

TransCanada adds that as many as 120,000 “indirect” jobs will be created, such as restaurant workers and hotel employees which will be needed to support the pipeline construction.

The numbers, however, can be deceptive. The jobs are counted on a yearly basis, so if the pipeline takes two years to build, what TransCanada means by 20,000 is 10,000 actual jobs over the course of two years. Also, many of the jobs will go to Canadians, where one third of the pipeline will be built. It is estimated that the pipeline will cost $7 billion to build.

Estimate Down

The US State Department, which must give its approval for the project for it can get underway, has a lower job creation estimate; closer to 5,000 direct jobs during the two years of building. Even TransCanada admits that the number of permanent jobs the project will create is only in the hundreds.

“Those are the real numbers,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of international programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Republicans have been acting as if this is a national jobs package, and it’s not.”

About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]