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American Petroleum Institute: Approve Keystone XL for the jobs

DICKINSON, N.D. - As a Senate committee nears a meeting where it'll take up a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the oil industry is again calling for a speedy approval, citing job creation.

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard hosted Sean McGarvey, president of AFL-CIO's building and construction trades department, for the latest media call in a publicity blitz supporting the pipeline project, for which delays in approval have lasted more than five years.

The project, when construction is completed, will employ 35 people permanently, according to the State Department's final Environmental Impact Statement on the project.

But Gerard and McGarvey on Monday focused on a different figure -- for one to two years of construction, including indirect and induced economic effects, the project could employ approximately 42,100 jobs, according to the state department's EIS. Gerard and McGarvey said that injection of jobs would help America as its fragile economy still recovers from a recession and as veterans return from overseas in search of work.

About 3,900 of those jobs are projected to directly relate to construction activities in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, along the pipeline's route, according to the state department.

"Unfortunately, some have even dismissed or downplayed these jobs, perhaps because they don't feel pipeline building and construction work has sufficient green veneer." Gerard said. "But, for millions of American workers, those are the jobs they want."

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee will vote on a bill Wednesday that would approve the Keystone XL. The bill has serious support from both the committee chair, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. Gerard and McGarvey pushed for committee approval and a full Senate vote on the pipeline.

McGarvey labeled Keystone XL's approval as a litmus test for how serious America is about energy security.

The 875-mile pipeline is projected to carry 830,000 barrels per day of oil south to Gulf Coast refineries, including 100,000 Bakken barrels, by connecting to the existing Keystone southern leg.

The 487-mile southern leg required 11 million hours of labor by 4,844 workers, according to TransCanada.

McGarvey said the project also would bring $3.1 billion in construction contracts, support and materials to his industry.

"I think there comes a time when as a country you circle wagons and get behind what's gonna be in our best long-term interest," he said.