Nearly two-thirds of the country would like to see President Obama approve the Keystone XL pipeline, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Among the respondents, 65 percent support the potential pipeline that would connect Canada’s tar sands with U.S. refineries along the Gulf coast. That’s a 6 percent bump from a similar poll conducted in June of 2012.Economic rationale seems to trump environmental concerns: A whopping 86 percent believed the pipeline would create a significant number of new jobs, while respondents were nearly evenly split on whether or not Keystone posed a “significant risk to the environment.” Despite this division on the pipeline’s green costs (which, despite the considerable effort the environmental movement has mobilized against the project, will be minimal), support for the pipeline’s approval appears to be building. And, as the Washington Post reports, Keystone’s appeal is bipartisan:
Support for Keystone is highest among Republicans, with 82 percent backing it. But majorities of independents and Democrats also want it approved, at 65 and 51 percent, respectively. Only self-identified liberal Democrats lean against, 47 percent to 36 percent. […]“Bipartisan majorities in Congress and a majority of the American people support moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline,” Cindy Schild, the American Petroleum Institute’s senior refining and oil sands issues manager, said in a conference call Thursday. “The Obama administration has all the evidence it needs to approve the Keystone XL pipeline without further delay.”
Obama will still be wary that approving Keystone could spark a backlash during this year’s midterm election campaigns, but it seems that most people who don’t self-identify as green support the project. And it’s worth noting that picking the pipeline as its chief mobilizing issue was an extraordinary strategic blunder by the environmental movement. Not only is the position unpopular, it isn’t even green—that oil is coming out of the ground whether we build this pipeline or not, and transporting it via Keystone would be a safer option than its accident-prone rail and truck alternatives.