Perspectives on the Keystone XL pipeline and rising gas prices

April 1, 2022

On Thursday, President Biden announced the largest-ever oil reserve release in the midst of record-high gas prices. After the announcement, people started discussing whether the Keystone XL pipeline would have helped reduce gas prices if President Biden hadn’t stopped its construction.

The bottom line: We’re more likely to believe information that confirms our existing worldview and dismiss information that doesn’t, so different details about the Keystone XL pipeline stick out to different people.

If Biden hadn’t blocked the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, would gas be more affordable? ​

No. The Keystone XL pipeline would start transporting tar sand oil, not crude oil used for making gas, in 2030 to be refined in the US and exported to Asia. It would‘ve had no effect on gas prices.

Yes. The Keystone XL pipeline that Biden stopped on day one of his presidency would have transported 830,000 barrels of oil every day to the US and would have had a huge impact on gas prices and American lives. That would’ve been much more effective than using oil reserves to handle gas shortages.

Who's to blame for rising gas prices?

Check out our breakdown of the conversation around US gas prices here.

To some, gas prices are high around the world — it’s not the US government’s fault.

To others, Democrats are penalizing everyday Americans by prioritizing environmental and foreign policy over supporting struggling families.

We rely on our existing framework of beliefs and values to quickly make sense of new information surrounding complex topics like gas prices and oil imports. This automatic sorting process leads us to emphasize different information about the Keystone XL pipeline. It also influences who we see as responsible for the high gas prices. So, if we already supported the current political leadership, we’re more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt in placing blame. And if we already opposed the current political leadership we’re more likely to find them at fault. 

Our tendency to pay attention to and remember information that fits within our current worldview makes our conclusions appear obviously true, but it’s important to remember that our contra partisan’s conclusion seems just as obvious to them. We can practice building a more complete understanding of different issues by paying attention to when we automatically accept or reject new information and ask ourselves why.

What do you think? Do you agree with one side, or do you fall somewhere in between? Give us feedback on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, or by emailing