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Oil Lobby Thinks Keystone XL Could Be the Next Mona Lisa or Sistine Chapel

If you've paid attention to the oil industry's six-year campaign to get construction of the Keystone XL pipeline underway, the project is no longer a simple pipeline meant to transport 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day through the United States. Today it's cast as only slightly shy of an economic miracle. In the past week, as the Senate debated a bill to approve the pipeline, you might have heard the tube will create tens of thousands of jobs, fulfill the promise of North American energy independence, lower gas prices (all the more), and even slow climate change. Most of this is ridiculous. 

But American Petroleum Institute is prepared to go even further. According to API, the pipeline is just like the Mona Lisa: "One of the world's most recognized works of art was created by a painter who made his living on temporary jobs": 

The Mona Lisa isn't the only classic work of art drawing comparisons. In response to a story by Washington Examiner's Zack Colman, API Vice President Linda Rozett tweeted:

With this new twist on its Keystone campaigning, API is conceding one part of the argument to environmentalist opponents. Keystone XL's jobs numbers are a bit inflated. API touts that construction of the pipeline will create 42,000 jobs—except that number comes from a State Department review that defines those as 3,900 temporary jobs and roughly 50 permanent jobs, with the balance an estimate of indirect jobs. The oil lobby is slow to admit these distinctions. But over the past few months, API has tackled the temporary-jobs criticism, as well. (That might stem from President Barack Obama sounding increasingly skeptical of Keystone's economic benefits.) API President Jack Gerard embraced temporary jobs in his annual state of energy address, drawing yet another comparison—this time to Obama. "Other great public works projects were built with temporary jobs," he said. "The president's job is temporary. Temporary jobs are good for the economy."

The debate shouldn't be bogged down by jobs claims. Opponents of Keystone argue its larger import is the risk it poses to environmentally sensitive parts of the country and for the damage it does to the climate.