How many new jobs might be created if the Keystone XL pipeline is built from Canada to the Gulf Coast for the purpose of carrying the dirtiest, carbon-saturated oil in the world for refining into fuel? This has been a perplexing question.
It has been three years since an Enbridge Energy pipeline ruptured beneath this small western Michigan town, spewing more than 840,000 gallons of thick oil sands crude into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek, the largest oil pipeline failure in the country’s history. Last March, an Exxon Mobil pipeline burst in Mayflower, Ark., releasing thousands of gallons of oil and forcing the evacuation of 22 homes.
Both pipeline companies have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to recover the heavy crude, similar to the product Keystone XL would carry. River and floodplain ecosystems have had to be restored, and neighborhoods are still being refurbished. Legal battles are being waged, and residents’ lives have been forever changed.
“All oil spills are pretty ugly and not easy to clean up,” said Stephen K. Hamilton, a professor of aquatic ecology at Michigan State University who is advising the Environmental Protection Agency and the state on the cleanup in Marshall. “But this kind of an oil is even harder to clean up because of its tendency to stick to surfaces and its tendency to become submerged.”
These massive cleanup operations will directly hire workers that are sure to be high-paying jobs with long-term security given the spillage record of pipelines. In addition there will be thousands of jobs created in the construction industry to build new homes for displaced families and to deconstruct the homes adjacent to the oil spill. Then there are all the jobs needed for the increased demand for relocating folks. And we know that people like to buy things for a new home so retailers will need more employees, manufacturers will have more goods to produce and so on and so on.
There is the explanation for the different predictions of new jobs from constructing the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department was just not counting all new jobs. The real short-term employment growth is in the aftermath of the TransCanda-expected oil spills from the pipeline.