Obama doubles down on low Keystone XL jobs creation estimate

US President Barack Obama called energy an important US jobs creation area, but excluded the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, in a July 30 Chattanooga, Tenn., address.

“We need to keep creating good jobs in energy—in wind and solar and natural gas,” he maintained. “Those new energy sources are reducing energy costs. They’re reducing dangerous carbon pollution. They’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

This is not the time to cut new energy technology investments, he continued. “Now is the time to double down on renewable energy and biofuels and electric vehicles, and to put money into the research that will shift our cars and trucks off oil for good,” Obama said.

He said lower natural gas costs are a huge benefit to businesses in the US, “so we should develop it even more.” He added, “We’ve got to do it in a way that protects our air and our water for our children and future generations. But we can do that. We’ve got the technology to do it.”

But creating more jobs will need to take place without compromising environmental safeguards, Obama said later in his address at an Amazon.com fulfillment center. “Gutting our environmental protection [is] not a jobs plan,” he declared. “They keep on talking about this—an oil pipeline coming down from Canada that’s estimated to create about 50 permanent jobs—that’s not a jobs plan.”

Obama used a similar estimate of Keystone XL’s job potential in a July 27 New York Times article, which TransCanada Corp., the project’s sponsor, and other supporters disputed it on July 29 (OGJ Online, July 30, 2012). Others responded to his continued use of the figure in his Chattanooga speech.

Ignores DOS analysis

“On the Keystone XL pipeline, the president continues to ignore his own administration’s analysis and dismiss the value of thousands of American jobs for those that badly need them,” said Karen A. Harbert, president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

“There are many ways to create jobs, including allowing for energy development on the 85% of federal land that is currently under lock and key,” she continued. “But we know that an easy way to start creating jobs is to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and put 42,000 Americans to work, according to the US Department of State.”

“One thing is for sure: Delay, deny, and duck is not a jobs plan,” Harbert said.

US House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), meanwhile, observed, “The president famously pledged to ‘do whatever it takes’ to create jobs—but this is a new low. Attacking new job opportunities is not a jobs plan.”

Upton said, “Unions and manufacturers are desperate for the president to say yes to the Keystone pipeline because it will get thousands of workers off of unemployment and back on the job. The president should listen to these American workers looking for a job and embrace the opportunity to realize the benefits of $7 billion in private investments.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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