U.S. popular support for TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline is slipping, according to a Nanos Research Group poll.
The percentage of Americans who support or somewhat support the project fell to 62 percent in telephone polling through March 3, compared with 74 percent in April 2013, the Nanos data show. Those opposed to the project climbed to 18 percent of respondents, up from 14 percent, and people who were unsure doubled to 10 percent.
President Barack Obama must decide whether to approve the $5.4 billion pipeline linking Alberta’s oil sands with Gulf Coast refineries after five years of study. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper advocates speedy approval, touting the line as a stable supply of secure energy. Environmental groups say it will boost damaging emissions.
Recent pressure on the U.S. to move faster may have backfired, Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research, said in a phone interview from Ottawa yesterday.
“The last year, it would seem that Canada is spending more time whining about the process as opposed to advancing the energy partnership,” said Nanos, who is also a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Americans are still more likely to support or somewhat support the pipeline, so this shouldn’t be considered a win for the environmentalists, Nanos said.
The share of those in the western part of U.S. who were opposed or somewhat opposed to Keystone being approved was 36 percent, the highest proportion among four regions.
Canadian support for Keystone has also declined, with a Jan. 15 Nanos poll showing favorable responses falling to 52 percent in December from 68 percent in April.
Oil-sands developers are counting on Keystone XL to lift heavy crude prices by connecting them to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the world’s largest refining center, as they double production by 2025. Keystone would ship about 830,000 barrels a day.
The U.S. State Department closed public comments on the project earlier this month, and the president has oversight because it crosses an international border. Obama told state governors last month he will probably decide within “a couple” of months on the project.
The telephone survey of 1,000 people conducted from Feb. 20 to March 3 has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.