BUSINESS

Keystone XL Poll Finds Support Fading In The U.S.

03/13/2014 01:39 EDT | Updated 03/13/2014 01:59 EDT

A majority of Americans still support the Keystone XL pipeline, but the number is in decline, according to a new poll from Nanos Research.

The pipeline had the support of 62.3 per cent of respondents in a telephone poll of U.S. residents carried out at the end of February. That’s down from 74.4 per cent support in a Nanos poll in April, 2013.

The Keystone XL pipeline is less popular in Canada. A Nanos poll earlier this year found 48 per cent of Canadians have a positive view of the project, with 46 per cent having a negative view.

In Canada as in the U.S., support for the project is softening. A year earlier, Nanos found 60 per cent support for Keystone among Canadians.

The direction of opinion should be of concern to Keystone XL proponents,” Nanos Research president Nik Nanos said, as quoted the Wall Street Journal. “The key question remains: As the approval process delays, will support for the project further erode?”

A former national security adviser to President Barack Obama told Congress this week that rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline would be a gift to Vladimir Putin.

James Jones testified Thursday today at a Senate hearing on whether approving the pipeline is in the U.S. national interest.

He said energy scarcity is a powerful geopolitical weapon — as evidenced now in Ukraine, and at various times in Iran and Venezuela.

Naming the Russian leader personally, he said the world's bullies are watching the Keystone XL debate, and hoping to see a weaker U.S. that foregoes opportunities for energy independence.

He says he can't understand why the U.S. would spend billions and risk soldiers' lives to stabilize oil sources abroad — then reject a piece of vital infrastructure at home.

The Obama administration is still reviewing the long-debated pipeline. A U.S. State Department report earlier this year reiterated its position that building Keystone XL would have little net impact on the environment, because oil from Alberta’s oilsands would reach markets by other means if the pipeline weren’t built.

But environmental groups have challenged that position, arguing that the State Dept. underestimated the impact that building Keystone would have on development in the oilsands.

An investigation by the U.S. edition of HuffPost has found that the contractor who evaluated greenhouse gas emissions for the State Dept. report has links to TransCanada, the company building Keystone XL, as well as to other organizations involved in the campaign to get Keystone XL approved.

ICF Consulting’s Canadian arm had carried out research for TransCanada, according to documents filed with the State Dept. Such arrangements are common, as the company seeking State Dept. approval would be expected to cover the costs of the assessment.

With files from The Canadian Press

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