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Whether 50 or 5,000 or More, Would Pipeline Jobs be Safe Jobs?

As Congress nears recess, legislative approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is still a possibility. Congressional Republicans and the American Petroleum Institute have said the Keystone XL pipeline could create 20,000 new jobs, as has the Teamsters union. House Speaker John Boehner has said "tens of thousands" of jobs would be created. The State Department estimate comes in at between 5,000 and 6,000, and a report from Cornell University's Global Labor Institute concludes that the pipeline could ultimately "kill more jobs than it creates," since most of the pipeline construction jobs would be temporary and costs of responding to related environmental health effects would lead to job cuts. Whatever the actual number, something I haven't seen discussed is the safety of the jobs that would be associated with such a pipeline. Pipeline-related jobs would involve not only oil and gas extraction, but also pipeline construction and installation, work that would involve welding, trench-digging, drilling, and much heavy equipment operation. The top 10 workplace safety standards violated in 2010 are all common to this work. At a time of tight budgets, when construction and production jobs are also often under time constraints, and when funding for the agencies that oversee workplace safety is also limited, this is a particularly important consideration, especially given this work's inherent hazards. . . . Read more »