As politicians debate the future of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, recent rallies and protests may not give a true picture of the public’s perception of it. Instead, recent surveys and editorial trends indicate that the majority of Americans agree with building the pipeline.
According to a report by The Globe and Mail, the Keystone pipeline has divided public and political opinion as the country weighs the potential impact it could have on the nation. Many editors across the nation have written opinion-based articles to support the pipeline, though the support is far from enthusiastic.
For the Des Moines Register, Editorial Page Editor Randy Evans believes that stopping the pipeline doesn’t mark the end to oil drilling.
“Stopping the pipeline will not stop oil drilling or consumption,” Evans wrote. “We need to find alternatives to oil rather than trying to cut it off at the source.”
Other similar editorials have been published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Houston Chronicle, New Jersey Star-Ledger, Williston (N.D.) Herald and Washington Post. In all, newspapers across the nation have featured 35 Keystone-centered editorials since Jan. 1. Of those, just three have been against Keystone.
Most of the American public share comparable opinions.
In a recent poll conducted in January by Rasmussen Reports, 59 percent supported the pipeline while 28 percent opposed it. Forty-seven percent of respondents felt that it was more important to generate new sources of energy than to protect the environment.
Another poll carried out in January for the National Journal also found overwhelming support for the pipeline. Sixty-four percent favored Keystone pipeline and 22 percent oppose it.
However, these polls may not adequately reflect how ranchers and farmers feel about the project. In February, a group of Nebraska ranchers were arrested as they protested the pipeline. The Daily Nebraskan reports that opinions in agriculture-heavy Nebraska vary widely.
Among the opinions:
“Only senators who take millions from big oil companies could think that tar sands passing through our country to some unknown destination is going to give us energy independence,” said Randy Thompson, a Nebraska landowner. “Stop grandstanding and get to work for the American people, not foreign oil companies. We will not sit by as foreign oil gets the rewards and we get a lifetime of risks.”
“A few thousand two-year jobs and 35 permanent jobs are only going to solve our country’s unemployment problem if this pipeline has mystical powers of some kind,” said Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, an activist group standing against the pipeline. “Farmers and ranchers along the route will need all the magic out there when a spill happens, since our own government does not have a solution to clean up tar sands.”
Regardless of public opinion, politicians appear to be set to approve the pipeline. Earlier this month a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would give Congress the power to approve the pipeline. See, “Senators introduce bill to approve Keystone XL pipeline.”