President Obama and the State Department haven’t approved the northern leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would cart tar-sands oil down from Canada, but the southern leg, which Obama blessed last year, is trucking right along. TransCanada says construction on the southern section, from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast, is about halfway complete.
Nearly 4,000 workers in Oklahoma and Texas are aligning and welding a 485-mile section, TransCanada spokesman David Dodson told The Associated Press.
“We’re right at peak right now,” he said. “We hope to have it in operation by the end of this year.”
Where there’s oil there’s money, and where there’s money there are job creators, right? At least so says TransCanada — and in the short term, that’s not wrong.
Now about 850 laborers are at work in Oklahoma, with roughly 3,000 more in Texas. Most are temporary contracts. Dodson said he didn’t know when those numbers would start winding down.
Pipeliners Local 798, a national union based in Tulsa, Okla., has about 250 of its members working on the pipeline’s northern two-thirds, union business manager Danny Hendrix said. He estimated about half of those welders are from Oklahoma.
“These jobs are really good-paying jobs,” Hendrix said. “They provide not only a good living wage, they provide health care and they also provide pension.”
Throughout the approval process, TransCanada has stressed those benefits, saying the pipeline could support thousands of people in economically rough times.
The pipeline to nowhere may be creating great jobs now, but that won’t last long. After pipeline construction is complete, the Keystone XL operation might only create about 20 actual permanent jobs.
And as for that all-important northern leg of the pipeline? Protesters will continue their “so-called ‘direct actions’” (gotta love civil-disobedience scare quotes) as they fight against the pipeline on the blockades and on the Hill.
And the Oklahoma workers with their good TransCanada wages and benefits?
“If the permit gets approved, we’ll start construction on the northern end of it immediately,” said Hendrix. I recommend you not rush, sir — as soon as you’re done, you’ll be unemployed.