Inflated Stats or Inflated Process on KXL?

During an appearance yesterday at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that while she does not know where the decision over Keystone XL is headed, she believes there has been an inflation of job estimates around the pipeline.

Considering that Keystone XL has undergone over four years of review, one would hope that the estimates associated with the project would be scrutinized over time. But what no one is denying – not even Ms. Jackson – is that the project will undoubtedly create American jobs.

A lengthy review may welcome sustained scrutiny, but it also allows time to get the numbers right. And as we head into what will hopefully be the last leg of the Keystone XL review process, these numbers have certainly stood the test of time:

  • The full Keystone XL project will create 20,000 jobs during construction and manufacturing.
  • The Gulf Coast Project alone is expected to create 4,000 construction and support jobs, while the northern leg is slated to generate 9,000 construction jobs.
  • Oil sands development in Canada linked to the Keystone XL pipeline could support 117,000 new U.S. jobs in the next 15 years.
  • The KXL project alone contracts with over 50 suppliers across the U.S., which helps to sustain and create jobs even outside of the pipeline’s path.
  • Keystone XL would support up to 4,560 new or existing jobs in the state of Nebraska alone.

Jackson added that she thinks it’s “too soon in the process” for President Obama to make a decision about the project’s fate.” I think a public process is absolutely vital,” she said. Is it still too soon in the process if:

  • The State Department has already conducted 20 scoping meetings to inform the first Environmental Impact Statement?
  • The State Department extended the public comment period twice?
  • President Obama already denied the initial application to allow for more study; this after the first 3 1/2 years of review?
  • The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality held  public meetings to discuss re-route options for the pipeline after the initial route was denied, further delaying approval?

Rumor has it that Ms. Jackson is departing from the EPA because she is convinced that the Obama Administration will approve the project, making her statements all too relevant. But no matter what her motive, staring at over four years of project review – a process double that of all comparable projects preceding it –  perhaps the Administrator has inflated the lack of “process” that this pipeline has endured and has forgotten the economic opportunities that Americans have missed out on thus far.

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