Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cost 20,000 Jobs Per Year

by Mark Wigg

Canada has a surplus of crude oil and the U.S. is pretty much their only market. About 20% of our oil now comes from Canada. According to today’s Toronto Globe and Mail (, we are paying $30 less per barrel for tar sands oil because they have no place else to sell it. This is why oil companies want the Keystone XL Pipeline. They want to export oil from Texas.
According to a 2011 Heritage Foundation report (, increasing imported oil price by $30/barrel would cost the U.S. 100,000 jobs. Since Canada supplies 20% of our oil, that would be about 20,000 jobs.
The same situation exists for natural gas where the U.S. now has a surplus of natural gas. Asia is paying 2-3 times more for natural gas than we are, but the gas producers want to change that by building liquid natural gas export facilities on Oregon’s coast. Building one export facility is estimated to increase our cost for natural gas by 10% or more. We will all pay more for natural gas to get a couple dozen jobs in Coos Bay or Astoria.
It is easy to understand why the companies want pipelines and export terminals for oil and gas, they will make more money. However, they need to use the power of the government to force people to sell their lands for the pipelines. The government is supposed to serve the people. Allowing the pipelines will kill jobs and raise our costs for oil and gas. We should say it is not in the nation’s interest to grant private companies the right to force people to sell their property for the Keystone XL pipeline or the Pacific Connector pipeline. That is a right limited to activities that would benefit the public, such as building roads. Φ

Mark Wigg is a local energy activist and environmentalist who lives in Salem.

2 comments for “Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cost 20,000 Jobs Per Year

  1. fschach
    February 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    One of the problems with the whole Keystone debate is that we are looking at the number of jobs that would become available as a result and acting as if it doesn’t matter that people can’t get back to work. Many opponents of the pipeline argue that this particular project doesn’t create enough permanent jobs. So in the face of not having enough “permanent” jobs we’re willing to sacrifice the 20,000 or more that the pipeline could actually create? Seem a bit backwards especially given that people were all behind supporting infrastructure projects like these back in September( is it because its an oil project that it doesn’t measure up to being good enough to be temporary? It makes me wonder just how air tight our jobs plan is for recovery when we’re turning down projects like these.

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