The Gulf Coast Pipeline, which carries crude oil from Cushing to refineries in the Houston area, injected more than $2 billion into Oklahoma’s economy during the 17 months it was under construction, according to a report released Wednesday by the Consumer Energy Alliance.
The pipeline also added $72 million in local tax revenue while bolstering small businesses in eight counties along the construction route.
“Local restaurants, hotels and businesses experienced a significant boost,” the report prepared by the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University says. “Business owners in Texas and Oklahoma reported large increases in volume due to the construction of the pipeline.”
The report was commissioned by the Consumer Energy Alliance, a vocal supporter of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Developer TransCanada opted to proceed with the southern leg of the project after being denied a presidential permit by the Obama administration for the northern section.
TransCanada spent $2.3 billion and hired nearly 5,000 construction workers on the 485-mile pipeline connecting the crude oil storage hub in Cushing with refineries along the Gulf Coast.
The project created $5.7 billion in economic activity: $3.6 billion in Texas and $2.1 billion in Oklahoma, according to the report.
Report author Bernard Weinstein said the pipeline provided a tremendous “economic tonic” to the 24 counties where it was built. Most are in low-income, rural areas.
“We have documented some pretty significant financial benefits to Texas and Oklahoma,” Weinstein said.
Michael Whatley, executive vice president of the Consumer Energy Alliance, said the pipeline will continue to benefit those communities, but Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb said the study is not reliable.
“No amount of money or construction jobs will help the landowners sleep better at night or ease their concerns that a pipeline with a 70 percent weld failure rate can burst at any moment,” Kleeb said.
Whatley called the Keystone XL pipeline a “vitally important” project that could bring discounted oil to U.S. refineries.
He said the Consumer Energy Alliance favors legislation that would force the Obama administration to decide on the project, which has been at a “political stop” for more than five years.
Mark Rodriguez, president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, also endorsed the project in a conference call Wednesday about the economic report.
“A project of this magnitude creates a direct benefit for every business in every county along the way,” he said.