The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone is Key For Jobs and Growth

Rayola Dougher

Rayola Dougher
Posted February 7, 2011

A few days ago in the midst of a blizzard on one of the coldest days of the year, members of the Construction and General Laborers Local 1140 met in Lincoln, Nebraska to rally in support of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and in opposition to state legislative proposals that would delay its construction.

The proposed 1,661 mile pipeline expansion project will link Canadian oil sands crude oil to U.S. refineries in the Gulf. This project could be one of the single most important opportunities for the U.S. not only to enhance our energy security, but also provide significant economic growth and job creation.

Not many people realize Canada is already our number one supplier of crude and petroleum products, accounting for 21 percent of all our imports. With more oil sands development, Canada could provide close to 36 percent of total U.S. imports in 2030 according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA). That is enough to meet more than all of the oil needs of the 15 Midwestern states today or supply almost two-thirds of all of the gasoline used in the nation.

This expansion of Canadian oil sands development is expected to lead to the creation of more than 342,000 new U.S. jobs between 2011 and 2015 and add an estimated $34 billion to U.S. gross domestic product in 2015 according CERA. These jobs and the economic benefits flowing to the U.S. relate in part to the construction of the pipeline and other industry facilities. But they also derive from the fact that much of the money we send to Canada to buy oil is in turn spent by Canadians on U.S. goods and services.

U.S. companies are standing in the wings ready to hire people to work on the pipeline and supply equipment, tools and materials to do the work. The unions are ready and the supply companies are ready.

The pipeline means a lot to the U.S. in terms of energy security and economic growth and job creation. For members of Local 1140, it means good paying jobs. One unemployed Nebraskan laborer said it best at the rally the other day, "It means food on the table for my kids and a roof over our heads."

The decision on whether to proceed awaits approval from the U.S. State Department. It also needs the support of Nebraska's representatives to see it through in a timely way. For members of the Construction and General Laborers Local 1140 the sooner the pipeline gains approval, the better.