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Pipeline Politics
Keystone XL More Popular Than Ever

The Keystone pipeline isn’t as controversial as the media portrays it. Support for the project, which would link Canadian crude from Alberta’s tar sands with refineries along America’s Gulf Coast, has never been higher, according to a recent poll. Rasmussen Reports found that a record-high 61 percent of likely voters surveyed supported the Keystone XL pipeline. If this were an election result, we would call it a mandate. The Hill reports:

That’s up from 57 percent in January, and just above the highest level of 60 percent found by Rasmussen in 2011.

In a recent poll by TheWashington Post and ABC News, 65 percent of people from the U.S. and Canada support construction of the pipeline.

Another poll released Thursday that was commissioned by American Petroleum Institute (API) found that 78 percent of registered voters agree that Keystone is in the nation’s best interest.

The pipeline has been portrayed as a wedge issue, but recent polling suggests that even among Democrats, the yeas outweigh the nays. The green movement has staked out Keystone as its marquee issue, but despite its relentless campaign, it has seen support for the pipeline grow with time.

So what’s going on? Well, greens may be failing to sway the public because the facts have deserted their position on this issue. In February, the State Department released a report that found that Keystone would have no meaningful impact on climate change, hamstringing the chief green complaint about the project. The reasoning behind that finding is easy to follow: The oil in Canada’s tar sands is coming out of the ground one way or another (in fact, it’s already making its way to refineries through less safe means like truck and rail). Therefore, the pipeline itself won’t play a significant role in the development of the admittedly dirty fossil fuel.

The State Department recently deferred its decision, pending a Nebraskan commission’s approval of the pipeline’s route through the state. That will likely kick the Keystone can conveniently past this year’s midterm elections, which will allow Democrats to avoid alienating their environmentalist base. But with support for Keystone seeming to grow by the week, don’t be surprised to see some Democrats campaigning on their support for the project in the coming months.

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  • Anthony

    I support the keystone pipeline because it means jobs for blue collars Americans. That is my first priority, as it should be President Obama’s.

    • Andrew Allison

      Similarly, the extraordinary impact of fracking on the ND economy. Should we start referring to those opposing both as the Luddites that they are?

  • Boritz

    …don’t be surprised to see some Democrats campaigning on their support for the project…

    Smart voters would realize that this support plus 85 cents will buy a soda from the vending machine (12 oz).

  • Anthony

    Is it true that oil from tar sands spew 17% more greenhouse gas than average crude oil refined in U.S.? And if so how will XL operating at capacity impact carbon pollution.

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