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Don't be fooled by TransCanada 'poll'

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Amid rising public objections to its proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, it looks like TransCanada is busy trying to turn public opinion around by conducting bogus surveys.

Here's how it works: Your phone rings and it's somebody wanting your opinion about gasoline prices. Sure, you wish they weren't so high. Then the caller suggests that the new pipeline would not only provide thousands of jobs, but bring down the price of gasoline. Of course, you think that's a good idea. Then, to cement your support, the caller asks if you support the pipeline.

You think you've just answered an innocent survey, but you've actually been subjected to a subtle kind of advertising, called the "push" poll. Usually, the push poll is an unethical tool used to discredit political candidates. We saw some of that during the last election.

In this reincarnation, the fake poll is pushing the listener to make a kind of psychic commitment to a project they probably don't understand. TransCanada claims the pipeline, which will run from Canadian tar sands to Gulf refineries, will create thousands of jobs. The "thousands" of jobs unfortunately are low-wage, short-term jobs that disappear when the pipeline is done. 

Pipelines do not reduce gasoline prices. World demand for oil largely drives the price of gasoline. Independent oil analysts claim XL is clearly an end run around the less lucrative Upper Midwest refineries. Maybe we'd like to keep those jobs here.

So, when you get that call, just say "no."

-- Jeanne Johnson, Alexandria

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