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Fox Poll Finds Everyone Loves Keystone XL - Sierra Daily
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Sierra Daily

Mar 07, 2013

Fox Poll Finds Everyone Loves Keystone XL

AfpJust arrived in my inbox is a missive from Tim Phillips, president of the Koch brother's lobbying organization, Americans for Prosperity:

“President Obama has stalled long enough on Keystone, and is finally out of excuses. The final obstacle to the Keystone Pipeline was removed last month and now over 70% of the public, including 53% of Democrats, support the pipeline and the thousands of American jobs it will bring."

Oh really? Here's the wording of the poll, conducted by Anderson Robbins Research/Shaw Research:

A proposed oil pipeline known as Keystone XL would transport oil from Canada to refineries in the United States. Supporters of the pipeline say it would bring needed oil to the U.S., lowering gasoline costs and creating jobs. Opponents of the pipeline have environmental concerns, including the risk of a spill, and also say the pipeline would increase American dependence on oil. What about you -- do you think the pipeline should be built or not? (IF NOT SURE, ASK: Well, if you had to choose would you build it or not?)

Grace McRae, the Sierra Club's resident polling expert, points out the features that make it dubious.  For starters, she says,

this poll fails to mention that the Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sand oil. In fact, the survey's question-wording could lead people to believe that the "oil" is conventional oil destined for the United States - not toxic tar sands to be exported to foreign countries. Fox claims that pipeline proponents say it would "bring needed oil to the U.S., lowering gasoline costs and creating jobs." The gas price argument is a flawed one, as even TransCanada economists have admitted that the pipeline would have no real impact on U.S. gasoline prices.

Also missing is any indication of the increased climate disruption that would follow from expansion of Canada's tar sands production. Finally, she points out, the poll pressures respondents not to say they are unsure or don't know. What the poll does establish is that a tendentious question can elicit the desired response.

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber

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