Voters ready to respond to Keystone XL delays, API-sponsored poll finds

Candidates’ stances on whether to complete the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline and other energy issues potentially could affect midterm congressional elections this November, a survey commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute suggested.

The random telephone survey of 1,000 registered voters Apr. 16-20 by Harris’s Nielsen division found 78% saying Keystone XL is in the US national interest, and 68% saying they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the project.

It also found 53% saying that if the project’s cross-border permit application is not approved, it would send a message to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin: “America is not as serious about energy security as it should be.”

Cindy Schild, API’s downstream operations senior manager, said, “Unfortunately, [US President Barack Obama] has decided to side with a billionaire activist and a handful of shrill extremists instead of the thousands of skilled American workers who have been shut out of the good paying jobs KXL would provide.”

She told reporters, “The president’s lack of political leadership is hurting middle-class Americans. If the White House refuses to heed the analysis of its own State Department and the will of American voters, it’s up to Congress to act on behalf of the American people and approve Keystone XL. It will create thousands of American jobs, and increase our energy and national security.”

‘Industry push-poll’

Keystone XL opponents camping on the Washington Mall as the Cowboy & Indian Alliance dismissed the survey before API released it as “yet another oil industry-commissioned push poll showing supposed support for the project.” They also considered a cartoon at the API-sponsored Energy Tomorrow web site offensive.

“This is not for novelty sake: We’re here to defend our homes and families,” said Tom Genung, a Nebraska landowner who chairs the Nebraska Easement Action Team. “API should come down and meet us face-to-face instead of mocking us from their cushy offices. Let’s see if they have the guts.”

Schild responded, “We’ve had a lot of fun made of us as well. I think Keystone became symbolic quite a while ago. This is not the only means of getting Canadian oil to market. As for theatrics, we’ve seen this before. We’ve been sticking to the facts while a small group of activists supported by a billionaire stage protests.”

The Washington Post, meanwhile, said in an Apr. 23 editorial that the Apr. 18 announcement by the US Department of State postponing a Keystone XL decision yet again “is not responsible; it is embarrassing…. The president should end this national psychodrama now, bow to reason, approve the pipeline and go do something more productive for the climate.”

Sabrina Fang, an API spokeswoman, said of the Post’s latest editorial: “It’s obviously very positive. I think the public and media understand this has become a political fight.”

Schild added, “Poll after poll shows support for the pipeline is increasing. It really is sad that politics is getting ahead of making a decision.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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