A new poll by DHM Reseach shows that a majority of respondents in Oregon, Washington and Idaho are supportive of shipping crude oil by train, although the pollsters found the level of knowledge about the subject is low.

The poll, conducted for Oregon Public Broadcasting's EarthFix, found that 56 percent of the 1,200 people asked are okay with crude-by-rail, while 23 percent oppose it. More than half, however, said they'd knew little or nothing about the issue. That's a disappointing piece of information, given that The Oregonian has devoted almost daily space to the issue in recent months.

The flow of crude oil trains from North Dakota's Bakken field is a relatively new phenomenon and although there have been high profile disasters elsewhere—most notably a derailment in Quebec last July that killed 47 people—the oil trains that ply both banks of the Columbia have thus far stayed on the tracks.

Global Partners is using a mothballed ethanol plant at Clataskanie on the Oregon side to unload crude-laden trains and ship oil downriver to refineries in Washington and California on a steady basis, yet based on the new poll, that activity seems generate less angst than the prospect of proposed coal export terminals: a DHM poll for EarthFix last July showed only 41 percent of respondents supported coal terminals. 

Updated at 6:45 pm:
A new poll released on July 7 shows that support for coal exports through the Northwest actually increased from last year's 41 percent to 47 percent this year.