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NEW POLL: 64 Percent of Americans Support Keystone XL

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New United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection polling shows that a majority of Americans support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by a wide margin. 64 percent of Americans support the pipeline according to the numbers while only 24 percent disapprove.  The Obama Administration is currently considering if it will move forward with the project.  

Respondents suggested jobs were the main driver of their sentiment:

In the question posed by interviewers, poll respondents were told that Keystone supporters “say it will ease America’s dependence on Mideast oil and create jobs,” while opponents “fear the environmental impact” of building the pipeline. Specific environmental impacts, such as emissions and the risk of spills, were not enumerated as part of the question.

Questions about the effect that Keystone XL will have on the environment have been a major cause of delay.  As the polling shows, when it comes to issues of climate and the environment, Americans are much more sharply divided than on job creation.  The breakdown differs among each socio-economic group surveyed:

The poll found that 46 percent of respondents said they believe Congress should vote to stop recently proposed Obama administration regulations that would reduce emissions from power plants, while 42 percent said Congress should keep its hands off the decision. Another 12 percent are undecided.

Respondents were told that supporters of the new regulations “say these regulations are necessary to reduce the risk of global climate change” while opponents “say these regulations aren’t worthwhile and could increase electricity prices.”

Although a partisan divide exists on the issue, Americans are not strongly sorted according to political identification. Self-identified Democrats are also more inclined to buck the administration—35 percent say Congress should stop the regulations—than Republicans are to let the rules go ahead, with just 23 percent saying the regulations should be allowed. Independents, however, were divided almost evenly: 47 percent say they do not want Congress to halt the new regulations, and 45 percent say they do.

Meanwhile, National Academy of Sciences (NAS) research suggests the dangers of brining crude oil from Canada to American refineries via pipeline may be overhyped.  They suggest diluted Bitumen (dilbit), the thick oil that will be delivered from the Canadian tarsands, is no more harzardous than regular crude oil. While energy transportation in general may come with built-in risks, the assertion that Keystone XL-related transport of dilbit represents a heightened risk seems refuted by NAS:

1. Diluted bitumen does not have unique or extreme properties that make it more likely than other crude oils to cause internal damage to transmission pipelines from corrosion or erosion.
2. Diluted bitumen does not have properties that make it more likely than other crude oils to cause damage to transmission pipelines from external corrosion and cracking or from mechanical forces.
3. Pipeline operations and maintenance practices are the same for shipments of diluted bitumen as for shipments of other crude oils.

As more information surfaces regarding the safety risks, or lack thereof, associated with increased oil transport, the American people are gaining clarity. The scales are tipping in favor of guaranteed job-creation and economic stimulus.


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