Environmentalists’ worst nightmare: Majority of Canadians, Americans support Keystone XL pipeline

Keystone Pipeline protest in Washington DCOn this Earth Day, there's some bad news for those lovers of the Earth, also know as environmentalists.

A new poll, released Monday, suggests that while Canadians and Americans are keen on reducing greenhouse gasses, the vast majority of them support the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that could transport up 830,000 barrels of oil per day from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

The poll — completed by Nik Nanos, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington — claims that 74 per cent of Americans and 68 per cent of Canadians that have heard about Keystone do support, or somewhat support, their respective governments approving the controversial project.

[ Related: Redford takes Keystone talks to Washington ]

"What I found striking was the percentage of Americans who said that [having] a stable supply of energy was important, nearly 9 of 10," Nanos told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Americans are quite fixated on energy security and this fixation likely explains the views on the Keystone XL pipeline. Also — although reducing greenhouse gases remain important for Americans — it is politically trumped by reducing reliance on oil from outside of North America."

Nanos cautions, however, that public opinion might not be enough for federal approval of the project.

"In terms of a decision on Keystone XL, Canadians have to realize is that the Obama administrations decision will likely be made on the basis on what is in the best interests of the US in terms of the economy and also the domestic political situation," he said.

"Both labour and environmental groups are an important part of the Obama winning coalition and they generally have conflicting views on Keystone. The polling does suggest that a majority support approving the pipeline but one should not discount the influence of environmental groups."

[ Related: U.S. State Department releases its environmental assessment of Keystone XL ]

While the environmental groups continue their protests, the Globe and Mail is reporting that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is in Washington DC, this week as "the latest in a parade of federal and provincial politicians" to lobby U.S. lawmakers about approving the project.

President Obama has the final say on whether the pipeline is a go; he is expected to make that decision later this year.

The survey was conducted with 1,007 Americans between March 28th and April 7th and 1,013 Canadians between April 6th and April 9th, 2013. Both surveys are accurate 3.1 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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