Yet Another Loaded Keystone Question In Industry-Funded Poll


An industry-backed poll from the National Journal finds most Americans support the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

But the survey, which was sponsored by United Technologies, a company that supports the pipeline, has but one question about Keystone — and it’s loaded:

This question does not mention climate or carbon pollution and refers to more supporting arguments than opposing ones. Worse, the anti-Keystone position is framed weakly and negatively (“opponents fear” environmental “impact”) whereas the pro-Keystone position is framed strongly and positively (“supporters say” it will “ease” oil important dependency and “create jobs”). Who wouldn’t rather be on the side of easing and creating rather than the side of fearing?

Additionally, the poll just asks if the respondent supports or opposes the pipeline. Yet when participants are not faced with such a loaded yes-or-no question independent voters favor renewable energy over the Keystone pipeline by a 4 to 1 margin. Among all voters, 87 percent believe Obama and Congress should make developing clean energy sources a priority. And if we actually listened to the voters across entire political spectrum who support renewable energy and climate action, developing the dirtiest new sources of fossil fuel would be unnecessary.

There are many serious reasons to be hesitant, and the President has made it clear that any pipeline he approved could not significantly worsen carbon pollution.

It would be terrific if national politicians actually followed public opinion on climate and clean energy policy. Until then, we have to hope the president will use his executive authority to stop the big new spigot into one of the dirtiest pools of carbon on the planet.

7 Responses to Yet Another Loaded Keystone Question In Industry-Funded Poll

  1. We focus on Keystone, but that is only part of the problem. We have tar sands efforts right here in Utah to stop. We have other pipelines in the midwest… remember the Kalamazoo River spill… and little is being done there.

    I have to thank my one time associate on the Green Party’s EcoAction Committee, Dee Taylor, for taking action against the forces of evil in Utah. She sent her letter of protest to the BLM here:

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    I’d like to see other poll results with more neutral question language. It may be that Keystone is still popular, if only be a small margin.

    That’s not really the point anyway. It’s wrong, and the reason some people support it is brainwashing or indifference by our corporate media, who portray opposition as scruffy, instead of what it really is- necessary.

  3. Zimzone says:

    A better question format?

    Given the fact that tar sands, by law, are not defined as oil and the general public, not the carrier or producer, will absorb the cost of a spill clean-up, do you support building the KXL?

  4. Kody Franklin says:

    Actually I was discussing this on MO Rep. Sam Graves Facebook page last friday. He posted the survey saying: “With gas prices rising again, it’s no wonder why the American people overwhelmingly support approving the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s time for the Obama Administration to approve this project, which will create American jobs and increase our supply of North American oil.”
    I replied:
    “Graves, do you want an incident like oil spill from the Pegasus pipeline that spilled $126k gallons (3k barrels of oil) in Mayfield AK and 42 gallons in Doniphan MO? The Keystone XL Pipeline (KSP) does has spill-detection, but it would have to 12k barrels of oil (1.5% of its 830k capacity) to trigger its alarm. TransCanada would not be paying the bill for cleaning up a spill since Exxon used a tax loophole to avoid paying for the spill from the Pegasus pipeline. We would have to pick up the cost since the shippers for the KSP would not have to pay into the U.S. Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
    Interviews with Canadian officials and KSP sponsors show that the goal after the KSP from Canada to the Golf is built is to expand the pipeline out and open Alberta to global markets not a single continental market. So while we gain only a couple thousand temp-jobs (not full time positions), we will have to pay for the spills, local Midwest gas increases of 20 to 40 cents at the least, and no long-term benefits.
    In respect to the survey, the question CC4 on the KSP states that “Supporters of the pipeline say it will ease America’s dependence on Mideast oil and create jobs. Opponents fear the environmental impact of building a pipeline”. The question does not say the full reasoning opponents are against the KSP. This issue is something any researcher should know and that is phrasing a question can put implicit bias toward the answer. The current question implies that the KSP with lower gas prices and create jobs. The opponent reasons are that it will increase prices and create only 2-3k temp-jobs. Also the employ demographic shows that 45% are employ full-time, 13% part-time, and 41% unemployed. Saying it will create jobs could lead implicit bias to unemployed to approve it without knowing all the details.”
    As usual he has not replied to my comment (even though I live in his district).

  5. Solar Jim says:

    Thanks Joe, et al.

    It makes some sense that United Technologies is in support of this fossil racket since they are based in Connecticut and the governor and his chosen environmental commissioner (associated with Yale Corporation with a long history of oil money) are also pushing for a multi-billion dollar, publicly subsidized build-out of fracked fossil methane.

    Who says CT is not spelled Corrupticut?

  6. BobbyL says:

    While I agree the question was loaded, nevertheless the results are similar to those of other polls on this issue, including a Pew poll from a few of months ago that simply asked whether people favor or oppose Keystone. Liberals were the only demographic group that opposed Keystone (48% vs 42%). The fact is, as the recent polling data show Americans favor building Keystone by a fairly wide margin. Let’s hope Obama goes with what the science says and not what the polls say.

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    All reputable suryerers know how to frame one or a series of questions that elicit responses that reliably indicate individual attitides or actions. But even the best polls can’t approximate the most reliable evidence which is given after a group of people have discussed the issue and come to a considered judgement, try it at home, ME

Cameron Davis is an intern at Think Progress