Created on: February 19, 2013 Last Updated: February 23, 2013
One of the most colossal oil projects in recent history, the Keystone XL Pipeline project, has come under controversy almost from its beginning. Designed to transport some 800,000 or more barrels of oil-sands bitumen from Alberta, Canada, the pipeline is designed to travel through two other Canadian provinces, as well as six US states, before reaching its final destination of Port Arthur, Texas (a center for refining).
Supporters of the $7 billion project argue for its importance based on building North American energy independence and providing an economic shot in the arm for an ailing economy. Those opposed to the project cite the temporary nature of the jobs that would be created, but focus more on the potential for irreversible environmental degradation and, in particular, the potential danger to vulnerable water resources, both above ground and below.
First the pros: Energy independence and jobs
Above all, the Keystone XL Pipeline project is touted as a powerful tool to move toward a more energy-independent North America. Canada’s Prime Minister (PM) Stephen Harper has called the project “a no-brainer,” citing the political benefits of a stable source of oil for both Canada and the United States.
The PM also noted that “The number of jobs that would be created on both sides of the border is simply enormous.” According to Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, the Alberta oil-sands already employ some 140,000 and that number would jump to half a million if the pipeline project went through. On the US side, a study by the TransCanada Corporation (the biggest beneficiary of the project) estimates that some 250,000 US jobs would be created, adding $100 billion to the US economy.
Questions about actual jobs it might create
Those opposing the development of the Keystone XL Pipeline have rallied hard, citing the downside of such a project. In regard to jobs, opponents of the pipeline suggest that the number of jobs created has been greatly overstated. According to Canada’s “Global News,” “Since 2009, the Communications, Energy and Paper workers [CEP] Union of Canada has opposed the project, saying only Americans stand to benefit. ‘They get the jobs and we end up with the environmental mess that’s left over,’ said CEP president Dave Coles.”
However, even the US State Department has suggested that the number of US jobs created would be closer to 5,000 to 6,000 in number, and
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