Environmental groups celebrated last fall when President Obama delayed the northern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would pipe carbon-intensive tar sands crude from Canadian strip mines to refineries in Texas.
Now that Obama is back in the White House for a second term, those same forces are banding together to encourage the president to kill the pipeline altogether.
A new poll suggests that these groups have public opinion on their side.
The polling outfit Zogby Analytics has just conducted a survey showing very strong support for renewable energy and minimal support for the Keystone pipeline among centrist voters.
According to the poll, which was released by the National Wildlife Federation, independent voters say they would choose renewable energies like wind and solar over Keystone XL by a 4-1 margin. Only 12 percent chose Keystone as a priority. And among all voters surveyed across party lines, renewables received twice the support as fossil energies.
The survey doesn’t tell us how voters feel about killing the Keystone pipeline outright. And the comparison in the survey — which conflates electricity generation technologies like wind and solar with liquid transportation fuels that the Keystone pipeline would support — doesn’t accurately reflect the differences in energy types. But to the average voter, that doesn’t really matter.
The important finding from this poll is exactly what we’ve seen in many others over the years: Americans of all political persuasions really like renewable energy and will almost always choose it as a priority over fossil fuels.
That strong support for renewables and other clean technologies over fossil fuels was the premise of a pre-election report from the Center for American Progress. That report — designed to directly challenge the American Petroleum Institute’s multi-million dollar campaign promoting unprecedented fossil fuel development — laid out balanced regional strategies for advancing clean technologies that voters say they prefer.
As it turned out, the API campaign didn’t convince voters. And after countering hundreds of millions of dollars in ad spending from groups promoting Keystone XL and expanded fossil fuel drilling, many environmental groups are feeling energized about where they stand post-election.
Broadly speaking, it looks like voters continue to stand with them.