by Max Brantley
Dishonesty and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin just seem to go hand in hand. It's been announced that Griffin will be the point man on a Republican publicity push today to beat up President Obama for withholding approval of a new pipeline from Canada in part because of environmental concerns that the pipeline could damage an important aquifer in Nebraska. Arkansas Republicans may not care about the water in Nebraska, but Nebraska Republicans, including the governor, care quite a bit.
Griffin and other Republicans will be flogging the "jobs" mantra — Little Rock has a plant that will make some of the pipe. The jobs on this pipeline have been wildly oversold by double counting of construction crews and the counting even of dance troupes to entertain workers among the supposed benefits. The Washington Post did a serious analysis here. For example, a huge amount of the supply chain work has already been done. There's more.
Meanwhile, the Cornell Global Labor Institute issued a study suggesting that any jobs stemming from the pipeline’s construction could be outweighed by environmental damage it caused, along with a possible rise in Midwest gasoline prices because a new pipeline would divert that region’s current oversupply of oil to the Gulf Coast.
Environmentalist Bill McKibben is also a skeptic.
In fact, the biggest reason the realists had no doubts the pipeline would get its permit, via a State Department review and a presidential thumbs-up of that border-crossing pipeline, was because of the well-known political potency of the jobs argument in bad economic times. Despite endless lazy reporting on the theme of jobs versus the environment, there were actually no net jobs to be had from the pipeline. It was always a weak argument, since the whole point of a pipeline is that, once it’s built, no one needs to work there. In addition, as the one study not paid for by Transcanada made clear, the project would kill as many jobs as it would create.
Stay tuned for Tim Griffin. If his lips are moving ....
UPDATE: Griffin's news release uses the bloated job creation number. And he brings in a Welspun executive who confirms that job creations figures are inflated here by the fact that his plant is already at work on the pipe. And it doesn't mention that it might get some more miles by a compromise in the works in Nebraska.
TIM GRIFFIN NEWS RELEASE
WASHINGTON — Rep. Tim Griffin (AR-02) led a group of House Members at a press conference today to urge the President to stop putting politics over paychecks when it comes to approving the Keystone XL Pipeline permits.
“We all agree that the greatest challenge facing our country is our weak economy and high unemployment,” Griffin said. “By delaying a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline permits, the President is putting politics over paychecks. Approval of this truly ‘shovel ready’ private sector stimulus of $7 billion should be a no-brainer for anyone interested in creating jobs. We are talking about 20,000 direct and 100,000 indirect high-paying jobs.”
In July, Griffin voted in favor of the North American-Made Energy Security Act (H.R. 1938), which was passed by the House. This legislation would direct the President to expedite the consideration and approval of the federal Keystone XL Pipeline permits. The Senate still has not voted on this bill.
Griffin also wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Clinton in March urging approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Last week, President Obama announced that his administration would put off any decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline permits until after the next presidential election.
“This decision is all about a presidential election, not leadership.” Griffin said. “This is the presidential equivalent of voting ‘present.’”
David Delie, President of Welspun Tubular, a pipe manufacturer in Little Rock, AR involved in the Keystone XL Pipeline project also spoke at today’s event.
“I appreciate Congressman Griffin holding this press conference so that people will know what is at stake if a decision on the pipeline permitting is further delayed,” Delie said. “We have over 600 employees in Little Rock who have been working to produce over 700 miles of pipe. This project already has been delayed once. Further delay raises serious questions about any future infrastructure project needing federal approval. The Keystone XL Pipeline permitting process has been compromised by politics, and it’s preventing job growth.”
“Earlier today, I spoke with the Premier of Alberta [Canada],” Griffin said. “She said they need a market and someone to help them refine their oil. Yesterday, Canada’s Prime Minister indicated that due to the Administration’s delay, they are looking to China. The President’s delay will create jobs — Chinese jobs — while at the same time injecting more uncertainty into our economy for American workers and companies like Welspun.”
“Stopping this pipeline won’t decrease oil consumption, but it will force us to continue to get oil from overseas at a high price,” Griffin concluded. “The President should put all of our governmental resources into approving this pipeline. American workers are counting on it.”