As Donald Trump signed an executive order to advance construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline on January 24, he said the measure would create a “lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs, great construction jobs.”
But, like many of the numbers the administration has thrown out in its early days, it’s unclear how the president arrived at that estimate.
The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the project, which was published by the State Department in January 2014, lays out a projected overview of economic activities related to the construction and operation of the pipeline. The project would create approximately 3,900 construction jobs in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas during the one or two years it takes to build the pipeline, the report suggests.
That number is seven times less than the one Trump suggested earlier today, though it’s possible the president was including other types of jobs the pipeline construction could create. In total, the report estimates that the firms that get awarded contracts for goods and services (including the construction) would add 16,100 jobs. Those people in turn could create another 26,000 jobs depending on how they spend their wages — a phenomenon the report calls “indirect and induced spending.”
However, none of those numbers match the one Trump used, and the report defines the term “job” as one position that is filled for one year.
The number of permanent employees the pipeline would require after construction ends is dismally low: just 35.
After a wave of protests from environmentalists, who pointed out the severe environmental damage the Keystone XL Pipeline could cause, Barack Obama rejected the proposal for the pipeline in 2015, saying the project would not serve the long-term interests of the United States because of its negative impact on the environment.
However, since Trump signed the executive order to proceed with the project this morning, TransCanada, the Alberta-based company behind the pipeline, has said it intends to reapply for approval.
Environmental activists are gearing up to fight that pipeline, as well as the Dakota Access Pipeline, which Trump’s new executive orders aim to advance as well.