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Sean Hackbarth  Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.Sections of pipe for the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline in Oklahoma in 2013. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.


In March, hundreds of students were arrested after chaining themselves to the White House fence to protest the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport Canadian oil sands crude and Bakken shale oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Groups like XL Dissent and 350.org want you to believe that this proves that young people are in lockstep opposition to the pipeline. Earthguradians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez told Politico, “I think when the public sees college students coming out and getting arrested people can say the youth came out. We were here. Because our generation will be the most impacted by whatever decision is made by the government.”

These protestors are actually outliers, a Pew Poll finds. Not only is the Keystone XL pipeline universally supported 61% to 27%, but younger people strongly support it too.

Pew broke its poll down into a number of segments, two of the youngest groups, the “Young Outsiders” and the “Next Generation Left” both support the pipeline. Keystone XL wins with Young Outsiders 59% to 29%, and the Next Generation Left supports it 62% to 28%.

 Pew Poll, June 26, 2014, on Keystone XLChart: Pew Poll, June 26, 2014, on Keystone XL

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake concludes that these voters “who see themselves as environmentally conscious, pro-wind and pro-solar don't believe that Keystone runs contrary to that ultimate goal.”

The State Department came to a similar conclusion in its environmental analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline. It found that it will have minimal effects on the environment.

As the American Action Forum’s Doug Hochberg writes, given the current economic conditions facing younger people, supporting a job-creating energy infrastructure project makes sense:

It shouldn’t be shocking that young people are interested in jobs when 12.6 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed in the so-called economic recovery. Young people want jobs and an economy that is moving forward, but the denial of Keystone just highlights the administration’s failure to provide either. 

Construction of the southern leg of the pipeline has created thousands of jobs and given boosts to local economies. If the President finally gives the go-ahead to constructing the northern leg, it will create thousands of additional jobs and help more local economies.

Younger voters see how the building the “safest oil pipeline built in America to date” strikes the right balance between improved energy security, job creation, and environmental protection.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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