Replacing aging wastewater, drinking water, and gas distribution pipes in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas can create more jobs and better jobs in the pipeline and construction industries than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, according to a new report released today by Ecotrust’s E3 Network and Labor Network for Sustainability.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been touted as a means to address America’s job crisis. This new report, The Keystone Pipeline Debate: An Alternative Job Creation Strategy, shows that we can create five times more jobs than Keystone XL by investing in much needed water, sewer, and gas infrastructure projects in the five states along the proposed pipeline route. The study finds that meeting water and gas infrastructure needs in the five states can create more than 300,000 total jobs. Every dollar spent on gas, water, and sewer infrastructure in those states generates 156% more employment than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
America is facing an infrastructure crisis. Unmet water and gas infrastructure capital investment and operations and maintenance needs exceed more than $32 billion along the proposed five state Keystone XL corridor. The failure to repair and maintain this vital infrastructure causes gas leaks and explosions, sewage overflows, water main ruptures, and the loss and contamination of drinking water. The damage caused by leaking gas pipelines has cost these states more than $450 million in damages since 1984.
Replacing failing drinking water mains in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas can create 177,000 jobs. Replacing failing wastewater pipe in those same five states can create more than 100,000 jobs. Sustained investment in operations and maintenance of water infrastructure in these five states can support an additional 15,000 jobs per year – 219 times more permanent jobs than attributed to Keystone XL by a recent State Department analysis.
Essentially the same skills are required to build and repair water, wastewater, and gas pipelines as to build the Keystone XL pipeline. But unlike Keystone XL, which relies heavily on existing TransCanada contract employees, there is no reason that these pipeline and constructions jobs cannot hire locally.
“If we are really serious about creating good jobs in America’s heartland, we should put people back to work repairing our failing infrastructure first. The KXL Pipeline promises little in terms of long term job creation, while significantly increasing carbon emissions and putting communities, farmland, and waterways at risk,” said Dr. Kristen Sheeran, Director of E3 Network.
As the study explains, all of the water, sewer, and gas infrastructure work in the five Keystone states can be paid for without burdening the taxpayer, by closing three Federal tax loopholes for fossil fuel companies. The oil refineries that will use KXL oil, along with the rest of the oil industry, receive large government subsidies. Redirecting just one of those subsidies to water infrastructure will create as many jobs as the KXL pipeline.
“The KXL Pipeline debate has caused significant friction between labor unions and environmentalists around whether to create jobs or address climate change – with President Obama trapped the middle,” said Brendan Smith of the Labor Network for Sustainability. “This is a false choice. For unions and other jobs advocates, there’s plenty of work that needs to be done fixing existing water and gas pipelines along the KXL route. This is a great opportunity for President Obama to show the country that we can create many more jobs by protecting the environment than by expanding the fossil fuel infrastructure.”