The Canadian Oil Pipeline: Good for 2 Days’ Worth of Jobs

Robert Samuelson urged President Obama to support the building of an oil pipeline to Canada which would facilitate the import of oil from Canadian oil sands.  One of his arguments is that: “TransCanada, the pipeline’s sponsor, says the project should result in 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs.  Most would be American, because 80 percent of the 1,661-mile pipeline would be in the United States.”

If the pipeline’s sponsor’s job estimate is taken at face value, it implies that the pipeline would create 16,000 jobs in the United States.  This would be less than 2 days of job creation at the late 90s’ pace of 3 million a year.

Samuelson also trivializes the impact that this oil would have on greenhouse gas emissions, telling readers that: “When all these ‘life cycle’ emissions — from recovery to combustion — are compared, oil sands’ disadvantage shrinks dramatically.  Various studies put it between 5 and 23 percent.”

If we use the mid-point of Samuelson’s studies, it implies that this Canadian oil would increase greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent over the use of other types of oil.

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.  He is the author of several books, including False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy.  This article was first published in CEPR’s Beat the Press blog on 29 August 2011 under a Creative Commons license.

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