Support for Keystone XL Piles On

This week, as Canadians celebrated Canada Day, what better time to highlight the benefits of Keystone XL – a pipeline that would help both our countries achieve substantial economic growth and energy security.

The promise of Keystone XL was on full display this week as many towns in the path of the pipeline “pray for Keystone XL.”  As NBC reported , the town of Circle, Montana is in desperate need of the economic growth and the revenue the Keystone XL pipeline would bring.  As one Circle resident, Denny Hogan, put it,

“If there is no pipeline, there is no future,” said Denny Hogan, the commander of VFW Post 4813. “End of conversation.”

Phillips County Commissioner Richard Dunbar said that TransCanada, the company tasked with building Keystone XL, will likely be the largest taxpayer in each of the counties it runs through. Circle is in McCone County, which is set to receive at least $18 million in revenues from the pipeline.  McCone commissioner Connie Eissinger explained how she would spend the revenue brought in from Keystone XL:

“She would like to put a wheelchair ramp on the courthouse; rehab the town library, which has a basement full of ground water; hire cops and road workers; and still have enough money to truss up the fairgrounds, build a new medical center and recruit new businesses to Main Street.”

Circle is by no means the lone beneficiary in rural Montana either; the proposed route of the pipeline would cross through six counties and each one has endorsed it.  Here’s how much the Montana Department of Revenue estimates Keystone XL will bring to these six counties:

  • $22.1 million in McCone County
  • $18.7 million in Valley County
  • $16.6 million in Dawson County
  • $9.6 million in Fallon County.
  • $5.9 million in Phillips County
  • $7.1 million in Prairie County

Montana isn’t the only western state endorsing Keystone XL.  A new Rassmussen poll  found that Coloardoans overwhelmingly support the pipeline.  It found that 63 percent of Colorado voters favor building the Keystone XL pipeline compared to only 24 percent opposed.

Now what’s the outlook on the national level? According to a Pew Research poll, support for Keystone XL is almost “universal” as even Democrats who want to replace fossil fuels with alternate energy sources want Keystone XL built. A Washington Post article summarized the poll results, making the important point:

“It’s not unusual for polls to show overwhelming support for Keystone. We’ve seen that for years. What the new poll shows is that even left-leaning voters who see themselves as environmentally conscious, pro-wind and pro-solar don’t believe that Keystone runs contrary to that ultimate goal.”

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce blog post recently added yet another pillar of support for Keystone XL – this time, reporting that young people strongly back the pipeline project. Leaning on findings from the Pew Research poll, the Chamber’s Sean Hackbarth pointed out that the activists that practiced civil disobedience by chaining themselves to the White House Fence are actually demographic outliers. A quick look at the poll results shows that the two youngest groups in the poll, “Young Outsiders” and “Next Generation Left,” both support the pipeline at a margin of 59% to 29% and 62% to 28% respectively.

But it’s no wonder that Americans from all different backgrounds support Keystone XL, considering that the economic benefits are already being realized in some parts of the country. According to a study from the Consumer Energy Alliance, the construction of Keystone XL’s southern leg has generated $3.6 billion in new economic activity and $1.7 billion in wages for local workers. The report concludes that:

“Similar state and local economic benefits can be anticipated should the United States give the go-ahead for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Hardisty, Albert, to Steele City, Neb.”

The Bottom Line

While activists such as Al Gore and Sierra Club Director Michael Brune spent this week trying to signal that President Obama will reject Keystone XL (by repeating the same thoroughly debunked claims), it’s clear that support for Keystone XL – which was already overwhelming – only continues to grow.

Keystone XL has repeatedly passed the State Department’s extensive analyses – and it’s clear it passes President Obama’s climate test.  Now President Obama will have to decide if he will stand with the Al Gores, Tom Steyers, and Michael Brunes of the world or the folks in Circle Montana who need Keystone XL and the overwhelming number of Americans who support the project.  It’s time for the Obama administration to listen to what the country actually wants — it’s time to build KXL.

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