Republican lawmakers, conservative media outlets and energy-industry spokespeople decried President Obama’s decision yesterday to deny a permit for the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project, which would have carried tar sands oil from Canada across the Great Plains to refineries on the Gulf Coast. They made much of the jobs the project would have created in the U.S. How many jobs? A thousand? A hundred thousand? A million? The estimates seemed to jump exponentially every hour the proposal remained on the table. Media Matters has released a video tracking the wildly rising estimates, sounding a cautionary note at a time when every potential campaign donor’s pet project is touted for the alleged jobs it would create.
“After opposing every major effort under the Obama administration to stimulate the economy, conservative media — led by Fox News — have claimed that the pipeline should be approved because it would provide jobs even as it threatens the environment,” wrote Media Matters staffers Jocelyn Fong & Shauna Theel. “The job figures rely on industry-funded studies, and at times even grossly exaggerate those estimates. Watch as they struggle to get on the same page regarding which inflated estimate to use.”
In the wake of the Obama decision, Colorado U.S. Rep Mike Coffman said the project would bring “tens of thousands of jobs” to the United States.
“This decision is not based on the jobs and the energy that our country so desperately needs, but solely on a political calculation that [Obama] can’t afford to offend his radical environmental base for his re-election,” he said in a release.
The discussion over the pipeline recalls the vast job-creation claims made last year by Colorado freshman Republican Rep. Cory Gardner when he introduced the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, which sought to open up greater sections of the U.S. coast to oil drilling, and particularly sections of pristine Arctic Ocean off Alaska.
The trumpeted environmental risks, even if taken at face value, Gardner said, were worth taking because drilling in the remote, freezing, stormy and dark Beaufort and Chukchi seas would create “hundreds of thousands of jobs.” The jobs claim seemed grossly exaggerated to skeptical analysts.
Gardner has taken enormous sums from the oil and gas industry over the past few years in campaign donations. His district is the site of an oil and gas drilling boom.