NEDERLAND, Texas (CBS HOUSTON) — As the Obama administration nears a decision on the controversial $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline, a new survey finds a strong two-thirds of Americans support the project.

A new Pew Research Center survey shows a majority of support for the pipeline project spanning most partisan groups: 82 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats favor building the pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Just 23 percent of survey respondents said they oppose construction, while 11 percent were unsure.

In March, President Obama said that while job numbers and other benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline are probably exaggerated, he has not ruled out the decision to approve the $7 billion project.

Calgary-based TransCanada, which is proposing the pipeline, initially said it could create at least 20,000 jobs, including 13,000 construction jobs and 7,000 jobs among suppliers and manufacturers. The company later clarified that the figures were for one person per year, based on a two-year construction timetable.

The State Department has estimated the project would create about 5,000 to 6,000 jobs.

According to the Associated Press, Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., said Obama appeared “conflicted” on the pipeline at a closed-door meeting in March, saying that many of the promised jobs would be temporary and that much of the oil produced likely would be exported.

But Terry said Obama also indicated that dire environmental consequences predicted by pipeline opponents were exaggerated.

“He said there were no permanent jobs, and that the oil will be put on ships and exported and that the only ones who are going to get wealthy are the Canadians,” Terry said.

The national survey conducted from Mar. 13-17 among 1,501 adults, finds that the public has mixed opinions about increased use of fracking — a drilling method that uses high-pressure water and chemicals to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations. About half (48 percent) of Americans favor the increased use of this process, while 38 percent are opposed.


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