President Donald Trump signed executive actions in support for the advancement of the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline on Tuesday.
While environmentalists, the Standing Rock Sioux and other supporters celebrated former President Barack Obama’s effort to block construction of both pipelines, Trump’s move will counteract that.
Trump said that progressing with the pipelines’ development will create “lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs, great construction jobs.”
However, the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL, which was released by the State Department in January 2014, reported that it would establish about 3,900 construction jobs in Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas in the time it would take to build the pipeline. That’s over seven times less than the number Trump suggested.
Admittedly, the report also notes that there are other non-construction jobs that could be created through this move, such as how firms that would be rewarded contracts for goods and services could establish an additional 16,100 jobs. However, many of these jobs would only be temporary, as the pipeline would be estimated to take one to two years to develop. After the pipeline is created, the number of permanent jobs that would be required would be at a significantly low number of 35.
However, the U.S. Department of Energy released their January 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, identifying that solar and wind energy employs more people than traditional oil, coal and gas industries combined. It cites that in 2016, about 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, and 102,000 workers were employed at wind firms in the U.S.
“The solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016, while wind employment increased by 32%,” the report stated.
The report also showed that 2.2 million Americans were employed, “in whole or in part, in the design, installation, and manufacture of Energy Efficiency products and services, adding 133,000 jobs in 2016.”
In the Electric Power Generation sector of the Department, the report noted that “net generation from coal sources declined by 53 percent between 2006 and September 2016, while electricity generation from natural gas increased by 33 percent and solar by over 5,000 percent.” Between September 2015 and 2016 alone, energy produced by solar power alone increased 35 percent nationwide while total solar generation has increased by 53 percent across the U.S.
The evolution in energy production shows in the job shifts. The share of natural gas, solar, and wind workers have increased more than coal mining, gas, and oil combined — in fact, jobs in tradition carbon-emitting energy industries have declined in past years.
With pressing need for divestment in oil and gas industries for the sake of climate change, moving forward with the Keystone XL and DAPL will not only endanger the environment, as well as the integrity and health of the Sioux tribe and other vulnerable communities, but the plans will also create less sustained employment production than investing in clean energy would.
As the Sioux tribe opposed Trump’s executive action, promising to take legal action, a lawyer for the tribe said that Trump acted “hastily and irresponsibly.” Those few words epitomize Trump’s move perfectly, not just environmentally and ethically, but also economically; it’s counterproductive to the promise of job creation that Trump promised his followers throughout his campaign and into his presidency.