Energy

More Voters Than Not Oppose Developer’s Decision to Abandon Keystone XL Pipeline

Over half of voters say the U.S. should continue to allow major new fossil fuel infrastructure projects

Activists protest in front of the White House against the Keystone XL pipeline on Jan. 13, 2015. A Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 42 percent of registered voters opposed a developer’s decision to abandon the project. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
  • 32% of voters said they support TC Energy Corp.’s decision to abandon the Keystone XL pipeline project, while 42% said they opposed it.

  • Democrats were most strongly in support of TC Energy’s decision (52%) while Republicans opposed it in large numbers (69%).

  • Nearly half of Gen Z voters said the U.S. should stop allowing major new fossil fuel projects, while 21% of Gen X voters said the same.

For roughly a decade, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought crude oil from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, has been the focus of protest from those arguing that constructing major new fossil fuel infrastructure runs counter to the goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. 

But while environmental and Indigenous activists cheered the cancellation of the pipeline project by its Canadian developer last week, new polling from Morning Consult and Politico found that voters were more ambivalent about the decision. 

Thirty-two percent of voters said they support TC Energy Corp.’s decision to abandon the project, while 42 percent said they oppose it. 

Democrats were most strongly in support of TC Energy’s decision (52 percent) while Republicans opposed it in large numbers (69 percent). Republicans were also most likely to take a stance on the subject, with only 18 percent saying they did not know or had no opinion compared to 26 percent of all voters who said the same. 

And the older generations of voters were more likely than their younger counterparts to oppose the project’s cancellation: 51 percent of baby boomers did so, compared with 23 percent of Gen Z voters. (It should be noted that the poll’s margins of error by generation vary from 8 percentage points for Gen Z voters to 4 points for the other groups.)

Meanwhile, 53 percent of voters say the United States should continue to allow the construction of major new fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines (31 percent “definitely” and 22 percent “probably”), while just 28 percent said the country should stop (13 percent “definitely” and 15 percent “probably”). 

Democrats were most likely to say the projects should definitely or probably be stopped, at just under half (47 percent), while 32 percent said they should be allowed to continue. Republicans responded more decisively, with 55 percent saying the United States should “definitely” continue to allow the projects and 23 percent saying they should “probably” continue to do so.

But a generational divide persists. Nearly half of Gen Z voters — the group that will be living with significant infrastructure decisions the longest — said the country should stop allowing major new fossil fuel projects. In contrast, just 21 percent of Gen X voters said the same.

This comes mere months after half of the country’s voters said climate change is a “critical threat,” a share that has increased steadily in recent years. 

The poll was conducted June 11-13 among 1,994 registered voters, with a 2-point margin of error.