The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone XL: ‘Put Thousands of Americans Back to Work’

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 14, 2013

Americans want the Keystone XL pipeline built. There’s no mistaking that in polling, including a new one we’ll get into down below.

Of all the Americans who’ve waited more than four years for the president to give the full Keystone XL the go-ahead, few have more on the line than thousands of building and construction workers. For them it’s bread on the table. Sean McGarvey, president of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trade Department, talked to reporters this week about his union’s support for the project's approval:

“For the skilled craft professionals that I am privileged to represent, the past four years have not been a recession, they have been a depression. Today, the unemployment rate in the U.S. construction industry is 16 percent.”

API President and CEO Jack Gerard also was on the call and reiterated some of the compelling reasons for the president to approve Keystone XL:

  • Creation of well-paying middle class jobs – The full project would generate 20,000 U.S. jobs, according to builder TransCanada, and could support 117,000 new American jobs associated with oil sands development by 2035 (Canadian Energy Research Institute).
  • Energy security – The pipeline would be able to move more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day from a secure and friendly source, Canada. Also, the Keystone XL would pick up 25 percent of its capacity from the U.S. Bakken shale region, strengthening our internal energy infrastructure.
  • Economics – The United States would solidify its trading relationship with Canada in which 90 cents of every dollar spent on Canada’s oil is returned to the U.S. in the form of American goods and services bought by Canadians.


The Keystone XL is “a project that will not only create good middle-class jobs for thousands of the safest, most highly trained workers in the building trades, but will expand access to secure supplies of Canadian crude oil that will be processed in state-of-the-art refineries here in the U.S. It would be an investment in America’s economy and in its energy future.”

Back to public opinion. This project, which has cleared three different environmental reviews by the State Department, is supported by 69 percent in a new Harris Interactive survey of registered voters:

The result is consistent with the strong support registered in a number of national surveys (Rasmussen, Fox News and Pew Research). According to Harris, majorities back the full Keystone XL according to:

  • Age: 65 percent in the 18-34 and 35-54 age groups; 74 percent in the 55-and-over age group.
  • Gender: Men 71 percent; women 67 percent.
  • Political affiliation: Republicans 76 percent; Democrats 67 percent; Independents 70 percent.

Harris also found that 82 percent believe U.S. policy should support the use of oil from Canada, and 83 percent think the Keystone XL would strengthen America’s energy security. Overall, that’s a very strong message – a mandate for action. While a minority (11 percent) strongly opposes the pipeline – and Canadian oil for that matter – the president should listen to the overwhelming majority that considers the Keystone XL a “complete no-brainer,” as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called it.

McGarvey said his members are watching. He said he expects the president to do the “right thing” – the thing that’s good for U.S. jobs, good for America:

“There is no reason for any further delay. In fact, there is every reason in the world to approve this project. The Keystone pipeline is critical to our domestic energy industry. And our domestic energy is proving to be critical to the re-awakening of the American economy. This has been the most scrutinized infrastructure project, perhaps, in our nation's history. And at every juncture, concerns about safety and the environment have been met and satisfied. It is now time to build the Keystone XL pipeline and put thousands of Americans back to work.”

Yes, it’s time.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.