Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline delivered more than 2 million comments Friday urging the Obama administration to deny the project, roughly twice the number that supporters submitted.
The disparity between the two camps, which came on the final day the State Department was accepting public comments on whether the pipeline serves the national interest, underscores the complex nature of the administration's upcoming decision. While Americans back approval of the pipeline by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, many young people and liberal Democrats intensely oppose it on the grounds that it would accelerate climate change and could lead to dangerous spills.
“We’re hearing from people all across this country who know that the Keystone XL pipeline is absolutely not in our nation’s best interest," said Amanda Starbuck, the Rainforest Action Network's climate program director, in a statement. "The two million comments delivered today reflect a huge wave of resistance to the pipeline. From the Oglala Lakota Sioux fighting to stop the pipeline from entering their territory to the hundreds of students arrested at the White House gates, we stand united with everyday Americans who are ready to do what it takes to stop this pipeline, once and for all.”
Several hundred youth activists were arrested last weekend in Washington D.C. during a protest of the pipeline.
Many American energy and manufacturing companies, on the other hand, have urged the president to grant a permit to TransCanada to ship heavy crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. More than 500,000 advocates organized by the American Petroleum Institute have submitted comments in favor of the project, in addition to another half a million Americans organized by industry groups such as the Consumer Energy Alliance and the National Association of Manufacturers.
"The Keystone XL Pipeline will create jobs across the construction and manufacturing supply chain, enhance our nation’s energy security and create significant economic value," the manufacturers' association wrote in its comment. "It has met and in many cases exceeded the environmental conditions placed upon it."