The State Department's public meeting in Austin tonight will give Texans a chance to weigh in on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. This massive infrastructure project-stretching from Hardisty, Canada to Houston and Port Arthur-has the potential to really boost our economy and give us a big leg up in securing our future energy supply from a close, friendly ally. And while tonight's meeting at UT will likely showcase a wide range of views, I hope that in the end actual facts rather than inflated fears prevail.
What facts? Well, Keystone XL's economic benefits for Texas cannot be overstated, especially in this bad economy. According to the Perryman Group in Waco, construction and development of Keystone XL throughout the lifetime of the project will inject more than $2.3 billion in increased business activity into the state. Additionally, a $1.6 billion jump in personal income will result. And the pipeline will pump $7.7 million and $41 million into local and state government treasuries respectively.
Since the recession hit, Texas' unemployment rate has almost doubled-skyrocketing from 4.4 to 8.5 percent. Luckily, with Keystone XL expected to immediately create 20,000 jobs and another 118,000 indirect jobs nationwide, unemployed Texans along the 371 miles that the pipeline would stretch through the state will be dealt a good card.
Public meetings like these are a great part of our democracy. And pipelines like Keystone XL are a fantastic way to jump start our economy and get people back to work. Therefore, hopefully there won't be too many Robert Redford-types in the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium tonight to smear this very important project. Texas deserves better, and America at-large sorely needs better.