After a Republican senator revisited his disagreement with President Barack Obama on the government permitting completion of the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver crude oil from Canada to Southeast Texas, a reader called for the Truth-O-Meter.
In a Jan. 20, 2015, post on his Senate website, John Cornyn of Texas noted the newly majority-Republican Senate was starting the year by taking up "bipartisan legislation, like the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. But the President has already threatened to veto this economy-boosting bill and prevent it from becoming law," Cornyn said.
The White House earlier announced Obama’s veto threat, saying congressional intervention would circumvent a required federal review to determine if the project crossing an international border serves the national interest.
Cornyn continued: "It’s unfortunate that the President would shut down this bipartisan legislation. In Texas, we’ve seen the direct positive impact of the pipeline on the local and state economy. The Texas leg of the project, which delivers more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil from Cushing, OK to Southeast Texas each day, has already created 4,800 jobs in just the year it's been up and running."
That many jobs since the pipeline started flowing oil through Texas?
Cornyn cites TransCanada
To our inquiry, Cornyn spokesman Drew Brandewie said the senator’s jobs count came from the owner of the pipeline, TransCanada.
A December 2013 Associated Press news story said the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast, was built and would begin shipping oil Jan. 22, 2014. The story quoted TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata saying construction of the leg began in August 2012, ultimately involving more than 11 million hours of labor by 4,844 U.S. workers. Sheremata said the number of workers employed in the operational phase of the leg had not been established, the AP reported.
According to an October 2013 TransCanada press release, the 4,844 workers who helped build the southern leg included heavy equipment operators, welders, laborers, transportation operators and supervisory personnel (including environment, safety and quality control inspectors).
TransCanada confirms construction jobs gone
With construction ended more than a year ago, we wondered how many jobs on the Oklahoma-through-Texas pipeline remain. Brandewie suggested we ask TransCanada whose spokesman Matthew John answered our inquiry in part by saying Cornyn separately made a clear reference to the "4,800 individuals who found work as a result of its construction" at a January 2015 celebration of the pipeline held in Beaumont, near Nederland, which is where the pipeline ends.
That said, none of the jobs mentioned by Cornyn remained in place after the pipeline was built, John told us.
Generally, John said, laborers "work themselves out of a job every time they clock in. Like any infrastructure project, the majority of jobs are created during construction. This doesn’t mean those jobs never existed or didn’t have any lasting impact on the economy or the lives the American men and women that work those jobs to support their families."
Asked how many people were employed by the pipeline in Texas at the time Cornyn made his statement, John emailed: "TransCanada has approximately 6,000 employees in North America; about a third are located throughout the U.S. across 32 states. In-service pipelines require maintenance, monitoring and operations jobs that may be directly supplied by TransCanada. However we spend millions of dollars every year with third-party contractors that provide services, (road repair, snow removal, inspectors etc.) in the communities where our infrastructure exists."
We asked for a precise count of jobs created after the pipeline was up and running. TransCanada spokesman Shawn Watson said by email: "We have almost 750 employees and full-time contractors based in Texas alone – and many of them will provide some level of support to our oil operations and maintenance there. That doesn’t include people in other parts of the U.S. who would provide support or expertise to pipeline operations in Texas, or who may be considered ‘corporate overhead.’"
A national analysis
If the entire pipeline is built, the U.S State Department has said, the result would be 3,900 jobs in place for two years and a total of 42,100 positions, PolitiFact in Washington, D.C. has noted, though the definition of a job in this sense is a position filled for one year. This total reflects both jobs created directly as a result of construction and manufacturing for the pipeline -- about 3,900 annual positions over two years -- as well as spin-off jobs supported by construction workers who purchase materials for the project or spend their wages in the economy. Much of the construction work would come in four- or or eight-month stretches. After full construction, the pipeline would employ a lesser number, primarily for maintenance. The total number of projected long-term jobs: about 50.
Finally, we asked Cornyn if it makes sense that the jobs he described as resulting from the pipeline's first year of operations existed only during construction. Via Brandewie, Megan Mitchell, Cornyn’s communications director, said: "Our office was correct in noting that 4,800 jobs were created as a result of the Gulf Coast leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Unfortunately, we erred in the timeframe."
Cornyn said the Texas leg of the Keystone pipeline project "has already created 4,800 jobs in just the year it's been up and running."
We didn't learn how many jobs were created in the pipeline’s first year of operations. But Cornyn’s figure reflected the workers who built the pipeline’s southern leg over 15 months--and those jobs no longer existed by 2014.
We rate this claim False.
FALSE – The statement is not accurate.
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