Support for Keystone hits all-time high in poll

Support in the United States for the Keystone XL pipeline is at an all-time high, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The survey from the conservative-leaning pollster Rasmussen Reports found 61 percent of likely U.S. voters at least "somewhat favor" building the oil-sands pipeline.

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That's up from 57 percent in January, and just above the highest level of 60 percent found by Rasmussen in 2011.

In a recent poll by The Washington Post and ABC News, 65 percent of people from the U.S. and Canada support construction of the pipeline.

Another poll released Thursday that was commissioned by American Petroleum Institute (API) found that 78 percent of registered voters agree that Keystone is in the nation's best interest.

The API survey by Harris Poll also found that 60 percent of Democrats say they would be more likely to back a candidate that supports approving the pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf refineries.

“Numerous polls have demonstrated strong voter support for the pipeline, but this latest poll also examines the potential political consequences of failure to act on Keystone," Cindy Schild of API said on a call with reporters Thursday. 

Schild cited the poll, in which 95 percent of the 1,000 voters surveyed said they think the federal government should focus on energy issues, with 70 percent highlighting energy as "very important."

Additionally, eight in 10 voters said it is likely their vote in the upcoming election will be influenced by a candidate's stance on energy issues.

The poll also questioned voters on whether a rejection of Keystone would send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. is not serious about energy security. Over half, or 53 percent, answered yes, it would show the that U.S. is not serious.

Republicans have pushed to tie Keystone XL to the troubled energy security in Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression. But President Obama won't be moving anytime soon on the $5.4 billion project.

“Unfortunately, President Obama has decided to side with a billionaire activist and a handful of shrill extremists instead of the thousands of skilled American workers who have been shut out of the good paying jobs KXL would provide," Schild said.

A number of green groups are pulling out all the stops and forming new alliances to push their agenda on climate change in the midterm elections. Opposing Keystone is a central part of the campaign.

"These polls show that the tar sands lobby has spent lavishly to push its lies about exports, pollution and jobs. They might think Americans are a bunch of suckers, but that hasn't worked out so well for them, it seems," said Mike Casey, consultant to NextGen Climate, the action group founded by billionaire Tom Steyer. 

Other groups have vowed acts of civil disobedience if Obama gives Keystone the thumbs up. But with the latest delay by the administration, a decision will likely be made sometime after the midterm elections.