Keystone XL pipeline could make life easier for thousands of unemployed workers

While President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill, many proponents of the pipeline say it could help make life easier for thousands of unemployed construction workers.

The rate of unemployment in the construction sector is 7.5 per cent, significantly higher than the rest of the nation at 5.8 per cent. As per estimates nearly 629,000 construction workers entered the New Year without jobs, and the recovery remains sluggish.

Available figures show that public and private spending in the construction sector is still 13 per cent below pre-recession levels.

The two-year proposed pipeline project is expected to generate as many as 42,000 jobs, including more than 9,000 in construction. Opponents of the project say that most of those jobs will be only temporary. But, they miss the point that construction jobs are always temporary. Workers move on once a project is completed.

Application for the Keystone XL was first submitted by TransCanada in September 2008. Since then, the U.S. Department of State has published five environmental-impact assessments that predicted that the effect of the project would be negligible at worst.

In addition to generation of jobs, the project will bring cheaper oil and gas from Canada to the U.S., which would provide a boost to the manufacturing and other sectors. The outcome of the recent congressional elections made passage of the pipeline bill a near-inevitability in January.