B.C. residents oppose pipeline, but could be swayed: poll
Published Wednesday, August 1, 2012 10:22PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 2, 2012 11:01PM EDT
The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has far more opponents than supporters in British Columbia, suggests a new poll which also found that many who oppose the project could have a change of heart in the face of environmental and economic considerations.
The Angus Reid Public Opinion poll surveyed 804 adults in British Columbia between July 30 and Aug. 1.
The survey found that the proportion of people who completely oppose the project outnumbers complete supporters by a 5-to-1 margin. But 51 per cent of respondents said their support or opposition to the project could change under specific conditions.
The online survey allowed respondents to view a map of the proposed location of the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would be built by energy giant Enbridge Inc. The pipeline would carry crude from Alberta to the B.C. coast to be shipped to Asian markets.
According to the survey, only seven per cent of respondents completely support the project, while 35 per cent completely oppose it.
Another 27 per cent said they support the pipeline, but could change their minds on environmental or economic issues. One in four respondents said they oppose the project but could also be swayed by environmental or economic considerations.
The poll comes after B.C. Premier Christy Clark outlined a list of demands she wants met in exchange for the province’s support of the $5.5 billion project. The project has long faced criticism from both aboriginal groups and environmentalists, and recent spills in Michigan and Wisconsin have raised fears that Enbridge isn’t up to the job of running a pipeline while keeping residents and the environment safe.
Clark’s demands, issued early last week, marked the government’s first major comment on the issue.
The province’s five demands included a call for world-leading practices for on-land oil spill prevention, response and recovery, respect for aboriginal treaty rights, and a fair share of the project’s fiscal and economic benefits that reflects the risk borne by the province, the environment and its residents.
When respondents who said they were either completely or partially opposed to the pipeline were asked if they would be more likely to support it if any of the five demands were met, 37 per cent said they would be more likely to support it if world-leading marine oil-spill prevention and response systems are established.
Thirty-five percent said they would be more likely to support the pipeline if on-land oil spill response is enhanced to world-leading standards, while 32 per cent said they would get behind the project if fiscal and economic benefits to the province are outlined.
When asked about the stance taken by their premier on pipeline issues, 37 per cent said they were satisfied, while 43 per cent said they were dissatisfied. About 35 per cent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with NDP Leader Adrian Dix’s stance, while 27 per cent said they were not satisfied. Dix has said his party will consider legal strategies to stop the pipeline from being built if it is approved.
The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3.5 per cent.