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Pew: Most In U.S. Support Keystone XL Pipeline, Stricter Greenhouse Gas Limits

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Anti-fracking and Keystone XL pipeline activists demonstrate. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Anti-fracking and Keystone XL pipeline activists demonstrate. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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CUSHING, Okla. (CBS Houston/AP) – A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 65 percent of Americans actually support the Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite protests from environmental activists that might indicate otherwise.

At the same time, people in the United States are also supportive of environmentally conscious measures that would limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The pipeline, which extends from Alberta, Canada to Cushing, Okla., has always been a controversial topic for a host of political reasons. It once again made headlines this week when Canada’s prime minister said Thursday he “won’t take no for an answer” if the Obama administration rejects the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the Keystone XL project, a flashpoint in the debate over climate change, during a visit to New York City. The long-delayed project carrying oil from Canada’s oil sands to Texas Gulf Coast refineries needs approval from the U.S. State Department, and Harper’s remarks are some of his strongest to date.

“The logic behind this project is simply overwhelming,” the prime minister said.

The Obama administration is considering whether to approve the pipeline, which would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta across six U.S. states to the Texas Gulf Coast. A decision late this year or early next year.

As Pew recently learned, most Americans would be in favor of it – despite also supporting measures that would curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“Most Americans (65 percent) continue to favor building the Keystone XL pipeline, perhaps the most politically contentious energy issue in Barack Obama’s second term,” a release on the survey posted to Pew’s website stated. “Yet when it comes to another issue making headlines – a proposal to tighten greenhouse gas emissions from power plants – the public favors stricter limits, by exactly the same margin as the Keystone pipeline (65 percent to 30 percent).”

Republicans, and business and labor groups, have urged the Obama administration to approve the pipeline as a source of much-needed jobs and a step toward North American energy independence. Environmental groups have been pressuring President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline, saying it would carry “dirty oil” that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill.

Pew’s findings reflect that support.

“Republicans overwhelmingly support constructing the pipeline. Eight-in-ten conservative Republicans (84 percent) and 76 percent of GOP moderates and liberals favor building the pipeline,” Pew learned. “As was the case in March, Democrats are internally divided: By 58 percent to 41 percent, conservative and moderate Democrats favor construction of the pipeline. Liberal Democrats oppose the proposal, by 54 percent to 41 percent.”

Research was conducted between Sept. 4 and Sept. 8, and involved a random sampling of 1,506 American adults who spoke to their feelings on a variety of energy issues.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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