President Obama believes there is “no evidence” that the Keystone XL pipeline project “will be a big jobs generator,” but the statistics he cited as “most realistic” are far lower than the State Department’s projections about the pipeline’s impact on the economy.

“A president disparaging private-sector jobs while backstage at a jobs rally is beyond belief,” House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement. “The president’s own State Department reported that Keystone would support upwards of 40,000 jobs. In this economy, any source of private job creation should be welcomed with open arms. After nearly 5 years and 15,500 pages of review, there is no reason to delay these jobs another day. Republicans, Democrats, leading unions, and job creators all agree, it’s time to start building.”

Obama pooh-poohed Keystone when asked if he thought it would be a “big jobs generator” by the New York Times last week. “Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator,” Obama said in the interview. “There is no evidence that that’s true. The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.”

The president is wrong, according to the State Department’s draft executive summary on the project. “Including direct, indirect, and induced effects, the proposed project would  potentially support approximately 42,100 average annual jobs across the United States over a 1-to 2-year construction period (of which, approximately 3,900 would be directly employed in construction activities),” the draft summary states.

Note that the State Department says construction of the pipeline will require almost twice as many jobs as Obama said it would. “This employment would potentially translate to approximately $2.05 billion in earnings,” the State Department also notes.