Many representatives who spoke to this issues guaranteed “tens of thousands of jobs”.
People can reasonably disagree whether one should look at the overall size of the construction force — as the State Department did — or whether one should look at jobs per-person-per-year. Obviously, the second method can greatly increase the number of “jobs,” depending on the length of the project. TransCanada officials also argue that the State Department estimate was made before binding labor contracts were signed, which they suggest means the estimate could increase.
Opponents and proponents of the project have also disagreed over whether as many as 7,000 indirect supply chain jobs will be created. (That’s the rest of TransCanada’s 20,000 figure.) Much of that figure depends on where steel pipe will be fabricated, with opponents claiming that many of the jobs will actually be outside the United States.
Opponents obviously have their own reasons for minimizing the number of jobs created. But the biggest stretch in all of these figures is the biggest number: the 118,000 “spin-off” jobs that supposedly would be created from building the pipeline. (This is again “person-year” jobs.)
This figure, calculated by Ray Perryman, a Texas-based consultant, depends mostly on two key figures, both of which are estimates: the basic capital costs, and the multiplier effect. As opponents have documented, if the capital costs are lower than predicted, and if the multiplier is smaller, then the number of “spin-off jobs” can shrink dramatically. The same goes for the estimates of “permanent jobs,” which depend also on the price of oil.
And what are some of these jobs? The TransCanada report does not say but Perryman used a similar technique for a report touting the benefits of a wind farm project.
Among the list of jobs that would be created: 51 dancers and choreographers, 138 dentists, 176 dental hygienists, 100 librarians, 510 bread bakers, 448 clergy, 154 stenographers, 865 hairdressers, 136 manicurists, 110 shampooers, 65 farmers, and (our favorite) 1,714 bartenders.
I’m not sure if this is what people want. The numbers are stretched out guesstimates, anyway. I hope GOP does not waste time with this issue. We need to move forward with solar, wind and hydro power. :)
The trouble with alternative energies is that they have highly variable power output (sometimes over the course of a day or over the course of a season, depending on the power source). The power grid isn’t designed to operate solely on variable power sources because we lack a critical component (that being a very large battery which can store generated energy). The other problematic element about alternative energies is that they generally aren’t capable of supplying large energy densities.
Nerds like me are working like crazy to change this state of affairs, but none of the technologies they’re working on is ready for implementation yet. I regularly sit down at lunch with solar cell guys who bemoan the fact that their tech is never going to be useful as an option for large scale generation of energy. The lithium ion battery guys in my group are more optimistic, but they have major hurdles to deal with before anything good is going to be ready for market, either.
So, in the short term, we’re stuck with two options: fossil fuels or nuclear power. Now, the obvious sane choice would be nuclear. Even with disasters like Fukushima, (which are rapidly being rendered impossible by modern reactor designs) nuclear plants put out less fissile material per Watt of energy than coal or natural gas plants. Unfortunately, people are fearful of nuclear power (and this fear is somewhat rational - meltdowns suck).
So, we’re really stuck with only one viable short-term option for large-scale production of power: fossil fuels. That’s not going to change anytime soon and we’re going to be buying oil and natural gas from someone, regardless. The nice thing about the pipeline is that it could reduce our dependance on foreign oil, provided that the oil companies don’t play some shell-in-cup game to try and screw us out of our own natural resources.
I’m not sure if I support it. I’m not a big fan of raping the Earth. However, if we’re going to be forced to do it anyway in the short term, we might as well try to reap some sort of economic benefit by supplying it ourselves instead of buying it from someone else.
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