Two-thirds of Americans favour building Keystone XL pipeline: poll

Two-thirds of Americans favour building Keystone XL pipeline: poll

Two-thirds of Americans favour building Keystone XL pipeline: poll

Two-thirds of Americans continue to favour building the Keystone XL pipeline despite a massive campaign against the project, according to a new survey.

While an overwhelming majority of Republicans (82%) favour construction of the pipeline, so do 64% of independents and just over half of Democrats (51%), according to the Pew Research Centre which polled 1,506 Americans earlier this month.

Crucially, the six states the pipeline will pass through were also strongly in favour of the project.

“In the six states the pipeline would traverse – Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas – 69% support its construction while 28% are opposed. Those in other states support it by a margin of 64% to 31%,” the Centre said.

However, young people across the political spectrum are less supportive of the pipeline — but still in the majority. Among those under 30, 55% favour building the Keystone XL pipeline while 39% are opposed. People 30 and older favour it by more than two-to-one (67% to 28%), the Centre said.

TransCanada Corp. is proposing taking oil from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries, but the U.S. State Department — which must decide on the pipeline because it crosses an international border — has been reviewing the project for more than five years, frustrating Alberta’s oil industry and policymakers in Ottawa.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told business executives in New York on September 25, that Canada “will not take no for answer” on the project.

“I remain an optimist that, notwithstanding politics, that when something is so clearly in everybody’s interest — including our interest as Canadians, but the national interest of the United States — I’m of the view that it has to be approved,” the Prime Minister said.

Environmental groups oppose the pipeline as they believe the project would encourage the development of carbon-intensive oil sands.

“Keystone XL would pipe some of the dirtiest oil on the planet through the breadbasket of America to be shipped overseas through the Gulf of Mexico,” Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defense Council told a U.S. House subcommittee on September 19, according to a statement released by the entity. “Financial analysts, industry commentators, and the environmental community agree that Keystone XL is a linchpin for tar sands expansion and the significant carbon pollution associated with it.”

In fact, the Canadian oil industry is increasingly of the view that the Keystone XL is diminishing in importance due to new pipeline plans and rising rail capacity. Officials from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc. have recently stated that oil sands production will continue even without the Keystone XL project. The U.S. State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact study also said that the project will not have a significant impact on the environment, and its rejection will not effect oil sands development in a meaningful way.

RBC Capital Markets said in a recent report said that a rejection of the pipeline could result in delays of 300,000 barrels per day and deferment of USD1.8-billion worth of projects — not a huge figure as capital spending is expected to exceed $20-billion annually for the next few years.

“While the Keystone XL decision could have an impact on oil sands investment over the next five years, we argue that a number of high probability projects and those already under construction are well positioned to proceed given their insulation from industry conditions,” the bank said in a note on September 25.

Americans are far more divided on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to the Pew survey. Forty-nine per cent of Americans opposed fracking, compared to 38% of the respondents that opposed it in a similar survey in March.

“Independents and Republicans are more likely to oppose fracking now than in March (by 13 points and 12 points, respectively),” said the Centre. “Democrats’ views have shown less change, but a majority of Democrats continue to oppose increased use of the drilling method (59%).”