Poll: Two-thirds back Keystone pipeline, belief in global warming trends upward

Two-thirds of U.S. residents support construction of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, including an apparent majority of Democrats, new Pew Research Center polling shows.

The same poll released Tuesday also shows increasing belief in global warming in recent years, but a dip from 2012 in the share of people who consider it a “very serious problem.”

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The results provide a snapshot of public views as President Obama weighs decisions on carbon emissions policy and the oil pipeline.

On Keystone, 66 percent of respondents back construction of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline to bring oil from Canadian oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries, while 23 percent oppose it.

Fifty-four percent of Democrats support construction of Keystone, a project under Obama administration review, while 82 percent of Republicans want the project built, according to polling conducted in mid-March.

“But there is a division among Democrats: 60% of the party’s conservatives and moderates support building the pipeline, compared with just 42% of liberal Democrats,” states a Pew summary.

Obama is under heavy pressure from business groups, Republicans and a number of unions to green-light the project.

Environmentalists bitterly oppose Keystone, alleging it will worsen climate change, while Democratic lawmakers are split.

On climate change, 69 percent see “solid evidence” of global warming in Pew’s poll, which is up from the 57-59 percent range a few years ago, but well below the 77 percent range around 2006.

Click here to see the v-shaped graph of public views over the last eight years.

There’s a sharp partisan divide, with 87 percent of Democrats agreeing there is “solid evidence” the planet is heating up, compared to 44 percent of Republicans.

Obama has vowed to take new executive actions on climate change in his second term, and he’s under pressure from environmentalists to impose carbon standards on existing coal-fired power plants, among other steps.

Among the 69 percent overall who see solid evidence of global warming, 42 percent attribute it to human activity, 23 percent to natural patterns, and the balance are unsure.

The scientific consensus is that the planet is warming, and that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other actions are driving the changes.

The same poll shows that 33 percent consider global warming a “very serious” problem, down from 39 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in 2007.

Pew also took the pulse of public views on the oil-and-gas development technique called hydraulic fracturing, finding regional divides about increased use of what’s dubbed “fracking.”

“More than half of those who live in the Midwest (55%) and South (52%) favor the increased use of fracking; there is less support in the West (43%) and Northeast (37%),” a summary states.

The party-specific segments of the poll have a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.2-5.6 percent, and the margin for the entire sample of 1,501 people polled is 2.9 percent, according to Pew.

Check out the whole thing here.