Today, no doubt hoping to appear to be a conservative, Congressional candidate Ryan Zinke offered a critique of President Obama’s State of the Union address that ignored the substance of the President’s remarks and badly misstated the facts about the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that its development would create “tens of thousands of jobs in Montana.”
That, of course, is pure fantasy. Keystone won’t create anything like that number of jobs in Montana, as CBS News explained last year:
But subsequent analysis suggests that Keystone’s job-creating potential is more modest. The U.S. State Department calculated last year that the undergroundpipeline would add 5,000 to 6,000 U.S. jobs. One independent review of Keystone puts that number even lower, with the Cornell University Global Labor Institutefinding that the pipeline would add only 500 to 1,400 temporary construction jobs. The authors of the September report also said that much of the new employment stemming from Keystone would be outside the U.S.
Transcanada itself cast doubt on its employment forecast when a vice president for the company told CNN last fall that the 20,000 jobs Keystone would create were temporary and that the project would likely yield only "hundreds" of permanent positions.
Worse yet, Keystone XL will actually increase prices at the pump for Montanans:
But in the case of the Keystone pipeline, it turns out there’s a special twist. At the moment, there’s an oversupply of tarsands crude in the Midwest, which has depressed gas prices there. If the pipeline gets built so that crude can easily be sent overseas, that excess will immediately disappear and gas prices for 15 states across the middle of the country will suddenly rise. Says who? Says the companies trying to build the thing. Transcanada Pipeline’s rationale for investors, and their testimony to Canadian officials, included precisely this point: removing the “oversupply’ and the resulting “price discount” would raise their returns by $2 to $4 billion a year.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, that would translate to about $3 for an average 15-gallon fill-up—as independent energy economist Philip Verleger put it, with Keystone the industry “will be able to use its market power to raise the heavy crude price to Midwest refiners above the level that would prevail in a competitive market.”
And let’s not even get started on the potential environmental impacts of the pipeline.