Poll: Americans support more pipelines, including Keystone XL

WASHINGTON — Eight out of 10 Americans support expanding the nation’s energy infrastructure, with new pipelines and other facilities to transport oil and gas across the U.S., according to an industry-backed survey released Thursday.

The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Petroleum Institute, also shows a majority of people back the Keystone XL pipeline, which would ferry Canadian oil sands crude to the Gulf Coast. Seven out of 10 people surveyed said they supported the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, with 17 percent opposed to the $5.4 billion project.

The State Department is readying a final environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, after being inundated with 1.2 million comments on a draft analysis released in March. A 2004 executive order tasks the State Department with deciding whether the border-crossing pipeline would be in the national interest, a verdict that may come next year.

Closed meeting: Environmentalists launch new push against Keystone XL

Beyond Keystone XL, oil and gas industry analysts and leaders have been predicting new pipelines will be constructed and old ones will be adapted to meet today’s supply and demand picture.

The current labyrinth of North American pipelines was built decades before the current drilling boom, with much of the grid flowing to the north and east. But oil drilling in North Dakota, natural gas production in the Northeast and the zeal for natural gas liquids on the Gulf Coast have dramatically changed the dynamic.

“Our energy transportation system originally designed to move crude oil imports inland from the Gulf Coast once made sense,” said Cindy Schild, refining issues manager at the American Petroleum Institute. “But shipments of crude from the Gulf to the Midwest dropped 500,000 barrels per day from 2008 to 2013, while shipments in the opposite direction, from the Midwest to the Gulf, jumped by 33,000 barrels per day.”

“Updating our infrastructure is essential for preventing bottlenecks and for ensuring Canadian and domestic oil and natural gas are most efficiently transported to market,” Schild said.

Energy survey: Poll finds Americans lack understanding of key energy issues

The survey seemed to poke holes in one of the oil industry’s biggest arguments for the Keystone XL pipeline: that it would provide American refineries with raw crude from a friendly North American ally, displacing supplies from less friendly nations.

When asked if America should import more or less of the foreign oil it needs from Canada, rather than other countries, only 63 percent said more crude should come from our neighbors to the north. While a majority, it is hardly the rousing, near-unanimity on the question some might have expected.

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Protests or not, they have a pipeline to build