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Dean Hulse, Published December 17 2011

Wishful thinking about Keystone

Evan Wilcox is no doubt sincere when he offers his support for the Keystone XL pipeline (“Keystone good for the economy,” Dec. 10). Nonetheless, Wilcox is misinformed.

Wilcox looks no further than TransCanada (the company proposing to build the pipeline) for his employment figure: 20,000 jobs. However, the U.S. State Department estimates that only 5,000-6,000 direct jobs will result during a three-year period from the pipeline’s construction.

Already, we have some ground-truth reality about how many local jobs the Keystone I pipeline created: TransCanada has admitted that only 11 percent of the construction and inspection workforce in South Dakota represented local workers. Based on that outcome, the Cornell Global Labor Institute estimates that only 10-15 percent of the workforce for Keystone XL would be local workers.

Finally, Wilcox’s claim that the Keystone XL pipeline will enhance U.S. energy security is only so much wishful thinking. According to a September 2011 briefing from Oil Change International, the Keystone XL will serve as an export pipeline. Case in point: “Valero, the top beneficiary of the Keystone XL pipeline, has recently explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors. The nation’s top refiner has locked in 20 percent of the pipeline’s capacity, and because its refinery in Port Arthur (Texas) is within a Foreign Trade Zone, the company will accomplish its export strategy tax free.”