Two thirds of those surveyed want it built, very much in line with what polls have been saying about rank-and-file opinions on Keystone XL for a long time. What's disturbing and disappointing is how many of those who want the pipeline nevertheless acknowledge that building it contains risks for the environment.
And then there's the fact that 85 percent believe the pipeline will create a significant number of jobs even though President Obama himself has said jobs from Keystone XL would be a "blip relative to the need." However, given the huge range of predictions we've been showered with about how many jobs would be created, and given the desperation many Americans feel nearly five years since the official end of the Great Recession, a big chunk of those who answered yes to the jobs question may simply be expressing their hopes for the project as much as anything. No way to know that for certain.
The poll itself suffers, as do so many issue-oriented opinion surveys, not so much from bad questions as incomplete ones. It would, for instance, be useful to know what percentage of that 65 percent think human-caused climate change is happening. And how big a percentage know what tar sands even are. And it would be enlightening to know where they got their information about the tar sands and the pipeline.
But there is no sugar-coating the fact that the long-running battle against Keystone XL has failed to persuade more Americans of the pipeline's true nature, failed to upend the propaganda. The predicament for pipeline foes is neatly summed up by the Post:
“I’m concerned about the environment, but we also use a lot of oil and we need to transport that oil,” said Laura Dabose, 54, a retiree in Palm City, Fla. “There’s an inevitability in it. It’s just a matter of finding the right route, and getting people to go along with it.”As for so many people, economics trumps the environment for Dabose. The widespread view that the environment and the economy are two separate entities is what must be overcome as we battle to keep fossil fuels in the ground to avoid putting more carbon into the air. The economy and the environment are, in fact, permanently intertwined. A healthy economy depends on a healthy environment. Can't have one without the other. Whether Keystone XL gets built or not, that's a message we must focus more attention on if we ever hope to shift opinions about energy policies that currently are driving us toward catastrophe.
The poll questions and answers in chart form can be found below the fold.