But Perryman was including a vast number of jobs far removed from the industry. Using that technique in a report on the impact of wind farms, Perryman counted jobs for dancers, choreographers and speech therapists.
“Any credible input-output model is going to include all induced effects and . . . some money will be spent on the arts,” Perryman said in an e-mail. “In the construction phase, this number would be minimal, given the temporary nature of the project. However, the permanent effects from lower oil prices would be somewhat larger.”
Meanwhile, the Cornell Global Labor Institute issued a study suggesting that any jobs stemming from the pipeline’s construction could be outweighed by environmental damage it caused, along with a possible rise in Midwest gasoline prices because a new pipeline would divert that region’s current oversupply of oil to the Gulf Coast.
One example of what worries activists: the break in an Exxon Mobil pipeline in Montana over the summer. On Friday, Exxon said efforts to control and clean up the 42,000-gallon spill would cost about $135 million.
Proponents of the pipeline emphasize that beyond the jobs it would create, it would also provide the United States with oil from a trusted neighbor.
“The energy security argument is part of the debate,” Doer said, adding that well before the uprisings started in the Middle East this spring he had joked with a State Department official, “What’s it going to take, a crisis in the Middle East to get this moving?”
In the end, neither side can predict with confidence what Obama will decide.
Climate activist Bill McKibben, who helped organize Sunday’s rally, said he and his fellow protesters are hoping to appeal to the person they helped put in the office three years ago.
“We’re operating on the assumption that the only person we haven’t heard from is Barack Obama,” he said, referring to the debate over the pipeline, “and he’s the same person he was in 2008.”