PunditFact: Claim that Keystone pipeline would provide 35 permanent jobs is true

The statement

The Keystone pipeline creates "35 permanent jobs" after construction, according to a government report.

Van Jones, Feb. 3 on CNN's Crossfire

The ruling

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would stretch 875 miles from Western Canada to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with existing pipelines and usher up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Because TransCanada's project crosses international borders, the company had to file an application for a presidential permit. As part of the process, the president directs the secretary of state to determine whether the project "serves the national interest." Secretary of State John Kerry has not yet issued a recommendation.

President Barack Obama is under pressure from all sides and there's plenty of debate over how many jobs the project would create during construction.

The State Department report puts the total at 42,100 jobs, though the definition of a job in this sense is a position filled for one year. Much of the construction work would come in four- or eight-month stretches. About 10,400 seasonal workers would be recruited for construction, the State Department said.

When looked at as "an average annual job," it works out to about 3,900 jobs over one year of construction or 1,950 jobs each year for two years.

The rest of the jobs would be the result of spillover spending as Keystone workers buy equipment and materials to complete the project and spend their money on an array of services, including food, health care, and arts and entertainment. As you might expect, it's much harder to measure the widespread effect on job creation.

There's no doubting that most of the economic activity comes during construction. Liberal Crossfire host Van Jones honed in on jobs after construction, which aren't really a source of sharp debate.

"There's very few jobs operating pipelines," said Ian Goodman, president of the Goodman Group Ltd., an energy and economic consulting firm in Berkeley, Calif. "That's one of the reasons why pipelines are attractive to the oil industry."

The report says the project would provide jobs for about 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.

The full-timers would be "required for annual operations, including routine inspections, maintenance and repair." Some would work in Canada. The U.S. employees would work at pump stations along the pipeline route as well as a Nebraska office.

The project's impact on housing, property taxes and service industries once in operation? Not much. Not much is known about the contractors' workload except they would provide additional specialized support.

Still, arguments about the relatively small number of permanent jobs from the pipeline often belie the nature of construction jobs, which are comprised of temporary projects by definition, said Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for a coalition of pro-Keystone groups known as Oil Sands Fact Check. "You build it, you move on," Dempsey said.

We rate Jones' claim True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PunditFact.com.

PunditFact: Claim that Keystone pipeline would provide 35 permanent jobs is true 02/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 5:46pm]

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