President Trump signs an executive order Tuesday to move forward with the project. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Upon reviving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline this week, the Trump administration claimed it would create 28,000 jobs. In a 2014 study, the U.S. State Department estimated the pipeline would create 50 jobs, 35 of which would be permanent.

It is not possible that Trump’s administration does not know the State Department figure. Newsweek reported it when it came out and Politifact cited it the following year.


Many proponents, like TransCanada CEO Russ Girling, say the project will create 42,000 jobs. Girling said these jobs would be “ongoing, enduring,” and we rated that claim False.

The State Department report does puts the total number of jobs at 42,100 — but the definition of a job in this sense is a position filled for one year. This total reflects both jobs created directly as a result of construction and manufacturing for the pipeline — about 3,900 annual positions over two years — as well as spin-off jobs supported by construction workers who purchase materials for the project or spend their wages in the economy. Much of the construction work would come in four- or or eight-month stretches. …

The construction phase, though, is expected to take only one to two years. After construction, the pipeline would employ a lesser number, primarily for maintenance. The total number of long-term jobs: about 50.


… buried in the 11-chapter report was a less sunny detail: the Keystone XL would create only 35 permanent jobs after the one or two years of construction jobs dry up.

“Once the proposed Project enters service, operations would require an estimated 50 total employees: 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors,” the State Department wrote

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed orders to renew construction on the Keystone XL pipeline would create “tens of thousands of new jobs” while making the environment “a priority.” From The Guardian:

Trump signed five executive orders including one to revive the Keystone pipeline, which would span nearly 1,200 miles across six US states, shifting more than 800,000 barrels of petroleum daily from Canadian oil sands through Nebraska to refineries in the Gulf coast.

“This is on the Keystone pipeline, something that has been in dispute and it is subject to a renegotiation of terms by us,” he said, showing the document to photographers. “We are going to renegotiate some of the terms. And then if they like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built. A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs. Great construction jobs.”

While an early version of The Guardian’s article claimed “[s]tudies have suggested that most of the jobs would be permanent,” the paper caught the discrepancy and subsequently corrected it:

Studies have suggested that most of the jobs would not be permanent, however. A US state department study estimated the number of long-term jobs at 50.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly


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