Ever since President Obama said "no" to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline last Thursday, the Fox News media monster has been working itself into a frenzy. The President is a "coward" and a "jobs killer." He's bending to "radical environmentalists" and letting the Chinese steal our oil.
Fox News hosts aren't traditionally ones to let facts get in the way of outrage, but their claims about the jobs Keystone XL would have created if approved are particularly odious. Time and again jobs claims associated with the pipeline have been thoroughly debunked, yet Fox News commentators continue to parrot falsehoods, if not amplify them.
On Monday morning, TV anchor Lou Dobbs joined his colleagues in practicing some fuzzy math.
"Mr. Obama, looking opportunity straight in the face, chose to avert his eyes and to absolutely throw away an opportunity to create 50,000 direct jobs, as many as 50,000 direct jobs, 200,000 jobs indirectly," said Dobbs on Fox News' America Live program.
Here's the clip:
It is unclear where Mr. Dobbs is getting his numbers. Even TransCanada says that their Keystone XL pipeline would create at most 20,000 direct jobs -- which it said includes 13,000 direct construction jobs and 7,000 jobs among supply manufacturers. That number, however, has been thoroughly debunked by independent analysis, media from the Huffington Post to the Washington Post to CNN, and TransCanada spokespeople themselves.
On the construction jobs, the Washington Post reported on November 5, "Girling said Friday that the 13,000 figure was 'one person, one year,' meaning that if the construction jobs lasted two years, the number of people employed would be only 6,500."
But even the 6,500 number is likely to be high. On November 11, Robert Jones, VP of Keystone pipeline for TransCanada, told CNN's Drew Griffin, "The numbers are literally how many technicians and such, up and down the line. You're probably looking at, in the field, from Montana to Houston, in the hundreds, certainly not in the thousands."
As for the supposed 7,000 manufacturing jobs, the majority would be in pipeline fabrication. TransCanada admits, however, that it has already spent $1.9 billion on the project, reducing the number of jobs that would be created in the future, and that $1.7 billion worth of steel will be purchased from a Russian-owned mill in Canada.
From there, the plot thickens a bit, but it's worth digging into. TransCanada spokesman James Millar told the Washington Post that 65 percent of the steel pipe for the project would come from the United States, produced in Little Rock and 20 percent would come from Canada. Of the remainder, 10 percent would come from Italy and 5 percent from India.
When TransCanada built the first Keystone pipeline, they contracted with an Indian company, Welspun, that imported raw steel from India and then manufactured it into pipeline at their factory in Little Rock. One can only assume this same Little Rock plant is the one TransCanada's Miller is referring too. Here's the kicker: the Welspun plant in Little Rock only employs 300 people.
That's a far cry from the 7,000 people TransCanada says it's going to employ with manufacturing the pipeline. There are likely some other jobs manufacturing nuts and bolts to hold the pipeline together, but it's going to be a big stretch to reach that 7,000 number (as of yet, TransCanada has made no attempt to back up the claim with actual evidence).
In fact, there might not be any jobs at all.
The only jobs study not funded by TransCanada, by the Cornell Global Labor Institute concluded that any jobs stemming from the pipeline's construction were likely be outweighed by the environmental damage it caused, along with a possible rise in Midwest gasoline prices because a new pipeline would divert that region's current oversupply of oil to the Gulf Coast.
One thing is clear: Lou Dobbs needs to publicly apologize for making up the 50,000 jobs number and misleading the public about the Keystone XL pipeline.
With our country in a grave economic crisis, it's important to be pursuing the types of changes that can actually create long-term employment in our country. Changes like building a clean energy economy right here in the United States, from rebuilding our grids to retrofitting our homes. Chasing after pipe-dreams won't get America going again. Lou Dobbs should know better.
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