Obama is ‘Ready to Sign Off On’ Jobs-Creating Pipeline Project, Industry Manager Says

By Andrew Herzog | August 23, 2011 | 6:04 PM EDT

The route of the Keystone pipeline and Keystone XL extension project (Image Copyright TransCanada Corporation)

(CNSNews.com) – President Obama “is ready to sign off on” the Keystone XL pipeline which aims to carry crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, Texas, an American Petroleum Institute (API) manager told CNSNews.com.

API refining issues manager Cindy Schild made the comment after an Aug. 18 conference call involving API and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), which are together promoting the project.

Asked how many jobs would be created through the international project, Schild told CNSNews.com that TransCanada Corp., the project owner, “estimates 20,000 jobs that can be created from the pipeline itself over the two-year project development period.”

“There’s other jobs associated with development of the resource in Canada that have impacts, economic impacts, on U.S. employment as well,” she added. “So, depending where your interests lie, there’s other data there as well on the economic benefits.”

In response to a question about the importance of this project, Schild replied, “Certainly in a time with over nine percent unemployment, you know, even listening to Obama on his bus tour this week, this is something you know he is ready to sign off on – projects that are going to create jobs. And this is unquestionably the single-handed largest shovel-ready project available.”

The Keystone XL project has drawn protests from environmentalists, who have held protests at the White House and elsewhere. The Natural Resources Defense Council says it undermines a U.S. commitment to a “clean energy economy.”

“There’s been an environmental assessment for nearly three years,” Schild said Thursday. “It’s been an open process. There’s been ample opportunity for public engagement; the State Department has been consulting with dozens of agencies from a local state and federal level.

“And it’s been a thoughtful process so at this point, it’s time to move the project forward,” she added. “Hopefully we’re going to see a decision that is favorable to determine that it’s in the national interest and we’ll be able to put these workers to work.”

CNSNews later asked Schild about the partnership between industry and labor in support of the project.

“I think you’re looking at a situation where the unions want work,” she replied. “You’ve got 20,000 potential jobs there. You’ve got workers that are standing there – they’re ready, they’re already contracted and ready for work. So what you’re hearing from the unions is encouragement.”

“There’s been support for this pipeline from the unions, from the building trades, before,” Schild said. “So this is not the first time you’re hearing this. They are ready to work and it’s the workers it’s going to impact as well as their families so it’s time to bring this home and hopefully again they will be ready to go into 2012.”

In a press release last March, IBT general president Jim Hoffa expressed satisfaction that the State Department was moving forward with the pipeline approval process.

“TransCanada has a solid reputation for its responsible construction practices, and Canada is our largest and most responsible oil supplier,” he said. “Allowing the project approval process to move forward was the right decision to make.”

The State Department is now entering the final phase of its environmental assessment and will schedule public hearings in several states along the pipeline route in September.

A national interest review is then scheduled to take 90 days, with a decision expected before the end of the year.