Environment  
comments_image Comments

5 Reasons the Keystone Pipeline Is Bad for the Economy

Those concerned with jobs should keep in mind that the pipeline is as much a threat to our economy as it is to our planet.

Continued from previous page

 
 
Share
 
 
 

4. Poor and working people will be disproportionately affected: KXL and projects like it result in disproportionately negative impact on already struggling working families. According to a recent report by the Center for American Progress called “ Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans , lower-and middle income households are disproportionately affected by the most expensive extreme weather events. Sixteen states were afflicted by five or more extreme weather events in 2011-12. Households in disaster-declared counties in these states earn $48,137, or seven percent below the U.S. median income.

5. Building the sustainable economy, not the Keystone pipeline, will create far more jobs: Our nation is in desperate need of jobs. Approving the Keystone pipeline locks our nation into a trajectory of guaranteed job loss and threatens the stability of the US economy. Why keep the “job-killing” course, when the alternative-energy path is already out-performing other sectors of the economy. For example, the solar industry continues to be an engine of job growth — creating jobs six times faster than the overall job market. Research by the Solar Foundation shows a 13 percent growth in high-skilled solar jobs spanning installations, sales, marketing, manufacturing and software development — bringing total direct jobs to 119,000 in the sector. And according to the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, investment in a green infrastructure program would create nearly four times as many jobs as an equal investment in oil and gas.

A study by Synapse Energy Economics developed a Transition Scenario for the electric power industry based on reducing energy consumption, phasing out high-emission power plants, and building new, lower-emission energy facilities. The study estimated the number of “job years” — one new worker employed for one year — that would be created by the Transition Scenario over a decade:

  • 444,000 job-years for construction workers, equivalent to 44,400 construction workers working full time for the entire decade.
  • 90,000 job-years for operations and maintenance workers, equivalent to about 9,000 full time workers employed over the decade.
  • 3.1 million indirect jobs for people designing, manufacturing, and delivering materials and jobs in local economies around the country induced by spending by workers hired in the Transition Scenario.

Organized labor is right to demand that public policy pay attention to our desperate need for jobs. But the Keystone XL pipeline will only make our jobs crisis worse by making our climate crisis worse. Plus, there are lots of pipelines that need fixing. Construction workers can be put to work rebuilding our crumbling natural gas transmission pipeline system — this will create good union jobs and cut carbon emissions. And these same workers can rebuild our crumbling water infrastructure. If labor is going to fight for jobs, let’s fight for jobs that build the future we want for ourselves and our children, not ones that will destroy that future.

 

Brendan Smith is co-founder of the Labor Network for Sustainability .

 
See more stories tagged with: