Obama, speaking with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly during a taped interview, incorrectly “corrected” O'Reilly, who was quoting jobs figures from the State Department's recent environmental review of the project.
O’Reilly: "Keystone pipeline. New study comes in, environmental impact – negligible. Forty-two thousand jobs. You’re going to okay it, I assume."
Obama: "Well, first of all, it’s not 42,000. That’s not correct. It’s a couple thousand to build the pipeline."
O’Reilly: "Forty-two [thousand] all told."
O'Reilly was mostly correct with the 42,000 number. The State Department's review estimated that building the pipeline would support 42,100 jobs during the construction phase. Of those jobs, 3,900 would be direct construction jobs.
The jobs, however, would be short-lived. After construction, Keystone XL would support just 35 permanent workers and 15 temporary jobs.
So while Obama was close when he said “a couple thousand” to build the pipeline – if he was talking about just construction jobs, he was wrong to dismiss the 42,000 number.
Further, Obama’s tone seemed to suggest that a couple thousand jobs weren’t worth the construction of the pipeline. With millions of Americans still unemployed, and now an official review saying the pipeline would have a negligible impact on the environment, there’s no reason not to approve the pipeline.
Obama then reminded O’Reilly that the review process for the pipeline was not over, that other agencies and the public still needed to comment.
Obama: "Well, the bottom line is, what we’re going to do is – the process now goes – agencies comment on what the State Department did, the public’s allowed to comment, [Secretary of State John] Kerry’s going to give me a recommendation. [inaudible.]"
O’Reilly: "So I assume we are going to do that after five years."
Obama: "We’ll take a look at it."
O’Reilly: "I’ll take that as a ‘yes'."
Good news! It only took five years to get the environmental study completed, but there will be another comment period and the State Department still needs to conduct a “national interest” study. Maybe the next president will approve the pipeline.