Poll finds open minds on oil pipeline

Angus Reid survey of 804 B.C. residents found 35 per cent completely opposed to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway line.

  • Aug. 7, 2012 5:00 a.m.

An oil tanker is escorted out of Vancouver harbour after loading Alberta crude at Kinder Morgan’s Westridge terminal in Burnaby.

Despite the media focus on spills and protests against new oil pipelines proposed for B.C., about half of respondents in a new poll are open to changing their minds based on economic or environmental factors.

The Angus Reid survey of 804 B.C. residents found 35 per cent completely opposed to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway line from northern Alberta to port facilities at Kitimat. Only seven per cent indicated unqualified support for the line.

Another 27 per cent said they support the Enbridge proposal but could change their minds based on economic benefits or environmental protection. Similarly, 24 per cent were opposed but open to reconsidering based on economic or environmental concerns.

The survey asked participants what they think of Premier Christy Clark’s five preconditions for provincial support of the Enbridge project. About a third said they would more likely back the project if Clark’s demand of “world leading” marine and land-based spill response was met, and a similar number said they would be persuaded if the current federal environmental review supports it.

Economic benefits to B.C. were cited as a factor in considering support by 32 per cent of respondents.

NDP MLA Shane Simpson said the poll shows a clear trend to more opposition as people become more familiar with the pipeline issues. Firm opposition is five to one against the Enbridge proposal, and is strongest in northern B.C., he said.

A proposal to twin the existing Kinder Morgan oil pipeline between Alberta and port facilities in Burnaby was supported by 37 per cent of respondents and opposed by about half.

While the NDP is campaigning against the Northern Gateway project, Simpson said the NDP won’t take a stand for or against the Kinder Morgan proposal until the company makes a formal application to Ottawa that details its plans.

There were 32 tankers loaded with crude oil at Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby facilities last year, and 69 in 2010. A company official said an expanded pipeline would generate 25 to 30 tanker loads per month going out through Vancouver harbour.

— by Tom Fletcher/Black Press

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