ENVIRONMENT

Keystone XL Pipeline Poll Shows Two-Thirds Of Americans Support Controversial Project

Demonstrators for and against the Keystone XL pipeline gather outside Pershing Auditorium near the state Capitol in Lincoln,
Demonstrators for and against the Keystone XL pipeline gather outside Pershing Auditorium near the state Capitol in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011. Federal officials head to Nebraska’s capital Tuesday as public hearings about a proposed oil pipeline that would span the country from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico move to the state where opposition to the $7 billion plan has been strongest. Opponents of the pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Texas through the sandhills of Nebraska expressed concern about the pipeline's effect on the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast subterranean reservoir that spans a large swath of the Great Plains and provides water to eight states, while supporters of the pipeline, which include labor unions and business groups, spoke of jobs and development and energy security. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that a majority of Americans support the Keystone XL pipeline.

According to the nonpartisan group, 66 percent of Americans favor construction of the pipeline, which would extend from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada through the Midwest, while only 23 percent oppose it.

The organization also surveyed views on other environmental topics and found that Americans were divided in their views on climate change and fracking. The survey found that 69 percent of Americans believe that there is solid evidence that the world is warming, up two percentage points since 2012. On fracking, the controversial drilling process by which a mixture of water and chemicals is used to extract oil and natural gas, 48 percent of respondents said they supported the practice, while 38 percent said they opposed it.

Pew surveyed 1,501 adults from March 13-17, just days before a pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Ark., killing nearby ducks and flooding suburban streets with crude oil. The leak forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), who represents the affected district, reiterated his support for Keystone XL Wednesday, following the ExxonMobil-owned Pegasus pipeline spill. “Despite this accident, pipelines are the safest way to move oil,” the congressman said in a local radio broadcast.

Yet some residents along the Keystone XL's route are not as confident. “If you live in rural Nebraska, a localized spill is nothing short of a catastrophic, life-altering disaster," Ben Gotschall, a Nebraska rancher and environmental activist, told HuffPost's Lynne Peeples. TransCanada spokesperson Grady Semmens suggested that a significant spill from the Keystone XL pipeline would be unlikely. However, the first Keystone pipeline was expected to leak only once every seven years but saw at least a dozen spills in the first 12 months since being completed.

Despite these findings, support for Keystone spans a large demographic that includes both progressives and moderates. CNN host Fareed Zakaria came out in favor of the pipeline in an op-ed for Time Magazine, drawing the ire of anti-Keystone activists.

As President Barack Obama considers whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline this year, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and 350.org are planning anti-Keystone events across the nation. One major protest is expected on Wednesday night during a fundraiser for Obama in San Francisco, Calif. CREDO, an activist organization based in California, has also launched an online pledge for environmental supporters to engage in civil disobedience if Obama approves the Keystone proposal.

HuffPost

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