5 Reasons The Keystone Pipeline Is Bad For The Economy

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka explained last year, “mass unemployment makes everything harder and feeds fear. . . opponents of the pipeline [need to] recognize that construction jobs are real jobs, good jobs.” KXL advocates have worked hard to capitalize on this fear by arguing that labor must choose between creating jobs and protecting the planet.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Here are 5 reasons why building the Keystone pipeline is bad for the economy — and workers.

1. Building the Keystone pipeline and opening up the Tar Sands will negatively impact national and local economies: mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”> could permanently cut the US GDP by 2.5%. At the same time state and local economies are already buckling under the real-time economic effects of our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. In the past two years, the vast majority of line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”> – 67 percent – were affected by at least one of the eleven $1 billion dollar extreme weather events. Superstorm Sandy alone caused an estimated $80 billion in damage. The drought that affected 80% of US farmland last summer destroyed a quarter of the US corn crop and did at least $20 billion damage to the economy.

2. The same fossil fuel interests pushing the Keystone pipeline have been cutting, not creating, jobs: 10.0pt;line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:
bold”> at gas stations. Instead of bankrolling an industry that is laying off workers and threatening our economic future, isn’t it time to take the billions in subsidies going to oil companies and invest instead in a sector that both creates jobs and protects the planet?

3. Unemployment will rise: font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>. Hurricane Katrina wiped out 129,000 jobs in the New Orleans region — nearly 20 percent. For the U.S. economy as a whole, 2011 mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>.

4. Poor and working people will be disproportionately affected: 150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>, 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: mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”> 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 150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”> 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.

mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”> 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:

  • font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>444,000 job-years for construction workers, equivalent to 44,400 construction workers working full time for the entire decade.
  • font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>90,000 job-years for operations and maintenance workers, equivalent to about 9,000 full time workers employed over the decade.
  • font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>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.

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