By John Parnell
President Obama told a closed door meeting with Republicans in Washington DC yesterday that the benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline have been exaggerated.
Congressman Lee Terry, who supports the $7bn project to transport Canadian tar sands to Texas, said the President was “conflicted” about the proposal which is awaiting approval by the State Department.
“He said there were no permanent jobs, and that the oil will be put on ships and exported and that the only ones who are going to get wealthy are the Canadians,” said Terry.
Obama stressed to the Republican audience that Keystone XL “will not create as many jobs as you think”.
The pipeline crosses the Canadian-US border making it an issue for the State Department.
New Secretary of State John Kerry is an ardent climate change campaigner but both he and President Obama are thought to be undecided on the issue.
Estimates on the number of jobs the pipeline could create vary greatly.
A State Department review published earlier this month found there will be just 35 permanent positions during the pipeline’s operation and 3900 during construction.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) claims it could support 465,000 jobs in the US by 2035.
Keystone XL would transport the oil to refineries on the USA’s Gulf coast. A separate plan to transport the oil to Canada’s west coast for export to Asia, has also hit opposition.
Climate campaigners say the Canadian tar sands, the third largest oil deposits in the world, would have a catastrophic impact on the atmosphere.
Their extraction and production is energy intensive and they also emit more than regular oil when burned.
There are also fears about the consequences of an oil spill. The thick bitumen like oil is harder to clean up than the lighter oils usually transported in pipelines.