WASHINGTON, July 31 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's recent comments on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, downplaying jobs that would be created, jeopardize the project by adding to its uncertainty, Republican lawmakers said in a letter to the president on Wednesday.
"We are concerned that your recent statements have signaled an arbitrary and abrupt shift in how our nation approves cross-border energy projects," Republican Representatives Fred Upton, Ed Whitfield, and Lee Terry said in a letter.
Obama has said twice over the last few days that the TransCanada Corp pipeline, which would carry about 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude and U.S. oil to refineries in Texas, would create far fewer jobs than Republicans have said it will.
"The most realistic estimates" are that the pipeline might create "maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two" and then about somewhere 50 to 100 permanent jobs in an economy of 150 million people, Obama said in an interview with the New York Times over the weekend.
On Tuesday, in a speech on the economy in Tennessee, Obama said Keystone would create only 50 permanent jobs, adding: "That's not a jobs plan."
Obama's estimate of the jobs associated with Keystone was lower than that in a State Department environmental assessment in March. It said the pipeline could potentially support about 42,100 jobs and create less than 4,000 construction jobs per year for about two years.
The president also said in a speech last month on climate that the country's national interest would only be served if Keystone does not significantly add to greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere.
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