The Biden administration is flouting a law that requires it to produce a report on the number of jobs lost by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, in addition to describing how its action may have affected energy costs.
The roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in November included a provision mandating the Department of Energy to produce a report to Congress detailing the impact to American jobs and energy as a result of Mr. Biden’s decision to end the pipeline.
The legislation allowed Energy Department Secretary Jennifer Granholm 90 days to provide the information to Congress. But that Feb. 13 deadline came and went last week with no response from Ms. Granholm, according to several Republican lawmakers who have since pressed for answers.
“Significant prospective spending for rural communities and small businesses, as well as tax revenue for local schools and public safety, disappeared with the stroke of a pen,” a group of Republican senators wrote in a letter to Ms. Granholm last week. “Knowing the full impact of the president’s actions is important to the American people.”
As of Tuesday, the senators still had not received a response, the office of Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, told The Washington Times.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Energy acknowledged the senators’ letter and added that they “continue to make progress on this report as we prepare to deliver the final version to Congress.” They did not address questions regarding a delivery date and why it had not been disclosed on time.
The Keystone XL pipeline was slated to stretch from Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with a pipeline that extends to the refineries on the Gulf Coast. It would have been able to carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day.
The multibillion-dollar project was more than a decade in the making, with numerous legal challenges along the way from environmental groups and American Indian tribes, who fiercely opposed the pipeline because of potential harm to the environment. Proponents argued it was a jobs creator that would drive down energy costs.
Keeping a longtime campaign promise, Mr. Biden issued an executive order during the first hours of his presidency that revoked a key permit for construction that had been approved by former President Donald Trump. Mr. Biden’s directive forced the Canadian energy company behind Keystone XL to cancel the project months later, in June 2021.
Lawmakers have floated a wide range of figures for the number of lost jobs, depending on their support or opposition to Keystone XL.
In their letter to Ms. Granholm demanding the required jobs report, the Republican senators noted that the project already employed 1,500 workers. They wrote that it was “projected to provide approximately 11,000 jobs” and that the closure had “erased thousands of real, high-paying jobs and approximately $800 million in wages.”
While a State Department report from 2014 said the pipeline would employ thousands of people, the vast majority of those positions would have been short-term construction jobs.
The State Department estimated that during its construction phase, the project would have an average annual employment of 3,900 workers, a number significantly lower than the total 10,000 or more who would likely work on the project because of the short-term nature of the positions.
More long-term positions that would last once the pipeline became operational, the State Department added, would total about 50 — 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.
• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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