Americans support Keystone XL pipeline, poll says

Americans who have heard about the Keystone XL pipeline overwhelmingly support the proposal to carry Canadian oil across the United States to Gulf Coast refineries, according to a Pew Research poll released Thursday.

Among those who knew about the pipeline, 66 percent said the federal government should approve the project. The poll found only 23 percent opposed it.

The Obama Administration rejected TransCanada’s application to build the controversial pipeline last month, saying a February deadline did not give them enough time to study alternative routes. President Barack Obama said TransCanada was free to revamp the proposal and reapply.

While the Keystone pipeline debate might be on the forefront of the energy industry, it isn’t for the general public.

Of those polled, 37 percent hadn’t heard anything about it, and nearly 40 percent said they had only heard a little bit.

The poll found that conservative Republicans were most likely to be following the issue and most likely to support it. In that group, 83 percent had heard about the controversial pipeline, and of those, 88 percent supported it.

By comparison, 63 percent of liberal Democrats knew about the pipeline and just 30 percent of them supported it – the lowest percentage of any political or ideological group.

Americans think the oil and gas industry needs more federal regulations, the poll found. The poll also found that Americans want stronger environmental protections, but there are significant partisan differences on those issues, as well.

According to the poll, 53 percent of poll respondents believed the federal government should strengthen environmental regulations. By party, 64 percent of Democrats said more environmental protection was needed, compared to 28 percent of Republicans.

A plurality of respondents also felt there wasn’t enough regulation of large corporations and the oil and gas industry. The poll found that 43 percent of Americans feel there is too little monitoring of big companies and 44 percent felt the same way about the oil and gas industry.

The partisan divide on that issue is substantial. Two-thirds of Republicans say regulations of the oil and gas industry are too strong, compared to 22 percent of Democrats. And 58 percent of Republicans want to see the government back off of big business, compared to just 16 percent of Democrats.