Millions of years ago, nature took a bunch of dead stuff and buried it far underground. Over time, that dead stuff cooked and liquefied into an oozing, black, toxic mass that for some reason some people seem determined to dig back up and burn. And determined they are; but for now, and possibly for the last time, the bill that would have allowed Canadian sludge to flow through America and out of the country has been killed in the Senate.
Last week the Republican House passed the latest Keystone XL pipeline bill, to no one’s surprise. There was some debate as to whether it would pass the (for the moment) Democratically controlled Senate. Today, the Senate killed the House’s Keystone XL bill.
But the bill killing was more of a political statement than anything else, a fact that those in Washington are well aware of. The simple fact is that Mitch McConnell has already made it very clear that “This will be an early item on the agenda in the next Congress.” Translation: The Canadian sludge pipeline is Priority One.
But at the end of the day, this vote and any other that passes once the GOP takes control of congress is fairly moot. Since the pipeline crosses international borders, final approval rests with the State Department and Barack Obama’s veto pen.
As of right now, Obama’s still keeping his cards close to his chest on the Canadian sludgeline, ostensibly waiting for the results of a report that’s been in the works for six years now. In reality, he’s probably just playing the same political poker game as everyone else. It’s fairly unlikely Obama will allow the bill to pass, even if (when) it does go through congress next year. But the pipeline is a valuable bargaining chip to keep Republicans in line for the next two years, and he knows it.
Republicans have a bargaining chip of their own, albeit of somewhat less substantial value. Most are still clinging to the talking point that the Keystone will create “40,000 jobs.” However, that figure is a tad misleading. Mostly because:
- It’s actually closer to 16,000 jobs, in terms of direct employment by TransCanada. The rest are “ripple effect” jobs in manufacturing and service.
- The jobs are temporary, spanning only the two years or less of anticipated construction time.
- They’re measured in “job years,” meaning “one job for each year of production.” But the project is slated to take two years. So, each employee that signs on for the full two years counts effectively as “two jobs.” Given that, the real figure could easily be half of the original estimate; so, total jobs temporary created even with the “ripple effect” might be no more than 2,500 to 10,000.
Meanwhile, the number of federal employees is at a 48-year low. That’s right: with 2.73 million people on the payroll since the GOP began its hack-and-slash program, we now have fewer people employed by the government than at any point since 1966. And even then, government employees made up 4.3 percent of the working population; it’s now less than half that, because the population has roughly doubled.
So, here’s our net employment equation after a few years of GOP rule:
- 100,000 permanent government jobs lost since 2012 alone
- 10,000 temporary jobs created by the Keystone XL
Go, America…home of the JOB CREATORS!