Poll shows support for Keystone pipeline, environmental regulations

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Republicans have blasted the administration’s rejection of TransCanada Corp.’s permit, alleging that Obama is missing a chance to improve U.S. energy security and create jobs.

Environmentalists bitterly oppose the project over greenhouse gas emissions from extracting and burning the fuel, fears of spills along the route and other concerns.

Obama said he rejected the permit because Republicans, in recent payroll tax cut legislation, demanded an “arbitrary” decision deadline that short-circuited proper review. 

The administration has invited TransCanada to reapply for a permit, which the company says it intends to do.

While the Pew poll shows support for Keystone, the White House could find more to like in a poll question about environmental regulation.

Fifty percent support strengthening environmental regulations, while 29 percent want to keep it at the same level and 17 percent say environmental protection rules should be reduced.

Among Republicans, 28 percent favor tougher rules, while 64 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents want strengthened environmental regulations.

The Republican-Democrat divide over environmental rules is larger than divisions over regulation of workplace health and safety, prescription drugs, food, and auto safety and efficiency, according to Pew.

The data comes as Capitol Hill Republicans are seeking to delay or scuttle recent and upcoming Environmental Protection Agency rules on power plant air toxics, greenhouse gas emissions and other issues.

The polling conducted in mid-February has a margin of error of 3-4 percent, although the margin is higher when it comes to data for specific political affiliations. Check out the whole report here.