Environmentalists Versus Workers: Keystone Pipeline Decision Will Shape Obama’s Legacy

Whether President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline or not hinges on one key question: Which is more important to him, creating jobs and promoting energy independence or fighting climate change?

Two reports released Thursday highlight both issues, making even clearer the choice the White House faces. Mr. Obama has delayed for more than a year a final decision on the massive pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil sands through the U.S. to Gulf Coast refineries.

The project’s latest route also must be approved by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican whose state stands to benefit if the pipeline is built.

A study commissioned by the Consumer Energy Alliance details those benefits: more than 5,500 Nebraska jobs created during the 2013-14 construction period, with nearly 1,000 permanent jobs continuing through 2030; more than $950 million in labor income generated for the life of the project; more than $130 million in property, sales and other taxes for Nebraska coffers; and an estimated $679 million boost to Nebraska’s gross domestic product.

The study, conducted by the Goss Institute for Economic Research, also predicts that the pipeline will increase overall economic activity in Nebraska by about $1.8 billion through 2029.

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