Farmer and rancher Jim Tarnick on his family’s land near Fullerton, NE that lies on the proposed KXL route. (Photo by Mary Anne Andrei)

A recent poll conducted by the League of Conservation Voters found that Americans believe that protecting clean water and property rights, two issues central to Nebraskans, are two of the top three reasons why President Obama should deny the permit for TransCanada’s Keystone Export Pipeline.

A significant majority–63%–said that if the Obama administration determines the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the nation’s best interests, Congress should “accept the decision and move on to other issues facing the country,” rather than try to force the administration to issue a permit.  An even bigger majority–68%–felt that “the Republicans in Congress are wasting time by putting so much focus on the Keystone XL pipeline when there are so many more important things they could be doing to help the country.”

What should be higher priority?  By over a 2 to 1 margin, 64% of those polled felt that “protecting the environment and preventing pollution of clean water sources” was a higher priority than the 30% who thought that the federal government should be “increasing the production and refining of oil in North America.”  Instead of focusing on oil, 56% of those polled thought that the most important priority for the federal government was “increasing the production and use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal power.”

The poll also showed that the focus of Congress on building the Keystone Export Pipeline at the expense of renewable energy and efficiency is becoming a liability for politicians.  46% of voters said they would be “more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the Keystone XL pipeline and has a strong record on supporting renewable energy development,” as opposed to 31% who say they would instead vote for “a candidate who favors the Keystone XL pipeline and has a poor record on supporting renewable energy development.”  Clearly, Americans are growing tired of oil industry-backed politicians who ignore the concerns of their constituents at the expense of clean water and common sense.  Take all five of Nebraska’s congressional delegates in Washington, for example.  In fact, by an impressive margin–60% to 24%–voters say they would trust environmental and conservation organizations more than the oil industry on whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be built.  Why do our elected officials in Washington continue to stand with Big Oil at the expense of their constituents?

While at the beginning of the poll, 44% of voters said they “did not know enough about the pipeline to have a real opinion,” by the end of the poll, after hearing and ranking arguments from both sides of the debate, 44% of voters felt that the President should not give approval for the pipeline, as opposed to 42% who did.  Interestingly, of the voters in the poll, 45% identified themselves as Conservative, 21% identified themselves as Liberal, and 30% self-identified as “Middle of the road.”  Regardless of their political leanings, no matter which way they felt about the pipeline, voters’ top three biggest concerns about building the Keystone XL pipeline were:

  • environmental impact and damage to the environment;
  • water contamination, water pollution, and dangers to the water supply and aquifer; and
  • taking land from owners, property rights issues, and problems for landowners.

All of these issues are concerns that Nebraska pipeline fighters raised from the beginning, and they are the issues that have united citizens, farmers, ranchers, and tribes in opposition to TransCanada’s export pipeline.  All of these issues are bi-partisan, common-sense, every day issues that affect real people.  They are the issues that oil industry politicians ignore at the expense of Americans, and they are the reasons why we will stand with President Obama should he veto the pipeline bill and deny the permit for the Keystone Export pipeline.