Claims the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline will lead to substantial job creation and other economic benefits are doubtful, according to report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
Enbridge claims the pipeline will create 63,000 person years of employment during the construction of the pipeline, and 1,146 full-time jobs once it’s completed.
“That sounds like a lot of employment until you start breaking down the numbers,” said Marc Lee, senior economist at the CCPA’s British Columbia office and author of Enbridge Pipe Dreams and Nightmares: The Economic Costs and Benefits of the Proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Enbridge’s job creation estimates are based on flawed modeling and questionable assumptions, said the study. Estimates assume workers would otherwise be unemployed, and a large share of the estimated jobs come from induced employment, meaning the economic impact of expenditures by Enbridge workers and governments. These “induced” impacts are particularly difficult to estimate and notoriously easy to overstate, said CCPA.
“It makes more sense to focus on direct employment,” said Lee. “According to Enbridge’s own estimates, the pipeline will only create about 1,850 construction jobs per year for three years. Even adding in upstream employment from pipe manufacture — if that were to occur in Canada — gives us no more than 3,000 jobs per year for three years.”
Other problems with framing the pipeline as an economic boon, according to the study, include:
•Canada will lose out on job creation opportunities from upgrading and refining, because oil sands bitumen will be exported to China after only minimal processing.
•Enbridge ignores the costs of the environmental risks of the pipeline — including disruption to existing employment and potential job losses due to oil spills.
•The pipeline further locks B.C. and Alberta's economies into carbon-intensive development that is causing climate change.
•The calculations assume economic benefits to communities along the pipeline, including hiring qualified Aboriginal workers. However, the company makes no commitment to training local residents.
•Enbridge’s calculations do not account for alternatives to the pipeline — they assume that without the pipeline, workers would be unemployed and there would be no other possible investment in the economy.
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