ForestEthics responds to new poll on Northern Gateway oil pipeline
Nikki Skuce predicts that public opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline will grow, even though a new poll suggests many British Columbians support the proposed $5.5-billion project.
An Ipsos Reid survey released today (January 5) shows that 48 percent of British Columbians support the project while 32 percent are opposed. Twenty percent are undecided. The poll, conducted for Enbridge, also shows that around 55 percent of British Columbians are not familiar with the project.
Skuce, a spokesperson for the West Coast environmental group ForestEthics, said increased public awareness is needed about the risks posed by the project, which would see a pipeline link constructed between northern Alberta and Kitimat, B.C.
“This is a tarsands pipeline shipping raw bitumen to China and what that means is introducing for the first time ever oil super tankers to British Columbia’s northern coastal waters,” Skuce told the Straight by phone today.
“I think people need to realize these are oil tankers bigger than the Exxon Valdez that sank and the consequences could be catastrophic,” she said.
“As people become more aware of it, the opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline will just increase and the polling results will reflect that.”
Meanwhile, Enbridge welcomed the Ipsos Reid poll results.
“It shows solid support for the Gateway project and the opposition is quite a lot less than has been suggested by environmental activists in the past,” said Todd Nogier, a spokesperson for the Calgary-based energy company.
“We think this puts into context the level of public support for the project,” he told the Straight by phone today.
The Ipsos Reid poll comes less than a week before the launch of community hearings as part of a federal environmental review of the project. The Joint Review Panel hearings start in Kitamaat Village on January 10.
Skuce said the upcoming hearings will give many British Columbians the opportunity to voice their opinions about the pipeline project.
“I think hearing some of those stories, in particular from the northern and coastal communities, I think people will start to realize really what is at stake,” she said.
“It’s a really difficult area to put a pipeline through safely and I think the more people learn about it and the more they hear these stories and connections and see pictures then opposition will just grow.”
Enbridge has said the Northern Gateway project would be built to world-class standards for marine safety. The company has also said it would take safety precautions such as burying the pipeline underground.
Ipsos Reid conducted the online survey of 1,000 adults in mid-December. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20.