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Survey Finds Public Support for Keystone XL, Fracking

April 5, 2013
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The Obama administration's final decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline is yet to be revealed, but a significant majority of Americans favor its construction, according to the results of a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

In a survey of 1,501 adults conducted March 13-17, 66% of respondents said they favor building the TransCanada Corp. pipeline. Support spanned most demographic and partisan groups, with 82% of Republicans, 70% of independents and 54% of Democrats saying they favor Keystone XL's construction.

The U.S. State Department last month released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (DSEIS) on the proposed northern portion of the pipeline from Western Canada to Cushing, OK, kicking off a 45-day public comment period (see Shale Daily, March 4). The DSEIS reaffirmed that "there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route." Proponents like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers urged an accelerated effort toward final approval of the multi-billion-dollar project, for which the southern portion is already under construction between Oklahoma and Gulf of Mexico (GOM) refineries in Texas.

In January, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a revised route for the northern portion of the oil pipeline that would run through his state (see Shale Daily, Jan. 23). The northern portion of the proposed $7 billion, 1,700-mile project from Alberta to refineries in the GOM region of Texas and Louisiana requires a presidential permit from the State Department.

Nearly half (48%) of the respondents in the Pew survey said they support increased use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), while 38% said they oppose it. Twice as many Republicans (66%) as Democrats (33%) favor the increase use of fracking, and there was more support among men (55%) than women (41%). And there were regional differences in opinions about the increased use of fracking: it was far less popular in the Northeast (37%) and the West (43%) than in the Midwest (55%) and South (52%).

The survey found that 69% of respondents believe there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades -- up slightly from 67% last October -- but the percentage of respondents who said that global warming is a very serious problem was 33%, down from 39% in October.

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