Jobs and Economy

Fact Checking Senator McConnell On the Keystone Pipline

Yesterday on “Fox News Sunday,” Senator McConnell claimed that attaching an unrelated, controversial items like the Keystone pipeline to a year-end tax package was worth it because it was ready to go and would create thousands of jobs:

“We have the Keystone pipeline in there. It's a shovel-ready project. The biggest and most important ready-to-go project in America, wouldn't cost the government a penny, not one penny… This would create 22,000 jobs almost immediately, ready to go, with no money.” [Fox News, 12/11/11]

Never mind that attaching the pipeline violates the GOP’s “Pledge to America.” The facts don’t support Senator McConnell’s claim, which we’ve helpfully broken down for you.

1.) “It's a shovel-ready project.”

Although a decision on the pipeline is forthcoming, this project is anything but ready for the shovel.

  • The Obama Administration has already announced that a decision on the pipeline will not be made until next year at the earliest.
  • There are environmental and pipeline route reviews still awaiting completion in Nebraska.

2.) “This would create 22,000 jobs almost immediately”

According to a study by the State Department, construction would consist of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 workers, including Keystone employees, contractor employees, and construction and environmental inspection staff – not 22,000 as Senator McConnell said.

And an independent report by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute finds that job estimates put forward by TransCanada, the owner of the pipeline, are unsubstantiated and the project could actually hurt job creation.

  • The job numbers cited by TransCanada are based on the Perryman study they commissioned. The study estimates around 119,000 (direct, indirect and induced) jobs would be created, but its methodology is opaque and estimates include already-completed pipeline projects. As the Center for American Progress points out, these estimates “have been described as ‘dead wrong’ and ‘meaningless’ by Council on Foreign Relations fellow Michael Levi and environmental economist Andrew Leach, neither of whom oppose the construction of the pipeline.”
  • Using transparent calculations, the GLI report estimates between 500 and 1400 temporary construction jobs will be created and 85-90% of people hired will be non-local or from out of state. A look at this chart by the Center for American Progress shows just how exaggerated TransCanada’s estimates are compared to the independent GLI numbers:


  • The pipeline will have little impact on manufacturing jobs with over half of the steel pipe, the main material input used for Keystone XL, being manufactured outside of the U.S.
  • The pipeline would have a negative long-term impact on jobs caused by additional fuel costs in the Midwest, pipeline spills, pollution and the rising costs of climate change.

Senator McConnell’s claim that the Keystone pipeline will create tens of thousands of jobs just doesn’t hold up to the facts. Rather than attaching unrelated, controversial provisions like the Keystone pipeline to must-pass items, it’s time for Republicans to work with Democrats to ensure middle class families don’t see their taxes raised, unemployed Americans receive the assistance they need, and seniors can continue to see their doctors.