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September 12, 2017 | Common-Sense Canadians Want a Clean Future as well as a Powered Present

Stewart Muir

Stewart Muir is founder and executive director of the Resource Works Society, a Vancouver-based group open to participation by British Columbians from all walks of life who are concerned about their future economic opportunities. He is an author, journalist and historian with experience on three continents including a financial editor of The Vancouver Sun responsible for mining and markets coverage. Since Resource Works was established in 2014, the group has gained international recognition for its practical approach to the public challenges of responsible natural resource development and use.

While a small number of protesters get themselves on the news with emotionally charged displays, it turns out most British Columbia residents are practical green futurists who support new energy projects done right.

When it comes to balancing British Columbia’s environment and economy, it’s not either-or. It’s both.

That’s how most residents feel about the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, according to a new poll from Abacus Research.

Canadian innovation in resource products strengthens BC and helps the world. The poll provides strong new evidence of how firmly Canadians believe this.

Despite millions of dollars invested by foreign activist groups to stoke fears over “certain” pipeline catastrophe, a shrinking number of people are buying the doom-and-gloom scenarios.

It’s not that Canadians are ignoring glaring evidence of climate change. Quite the opposite. Most of us do see a transition path leading away from fossil fuels and toward greater dependence on solutions like solar, wind, natural gas and hydro.

But we also realize we need affordable, reliable energy in our lives today. Experience in Ontario has already shown the folly of abandoning reliable technology in favour of costly alternatives that might be affordable some day, but aren’t yet.

Perhaps a result, the share of Canadians opposed to new pipeline investment has actually fallen in 2017.

Worth noting is that 64% in BC and 51% of NDP voters believe that the country should continue to add pipeline capacity while investing in efforts to reduce emissions because of climate change fears.

“On one of the most prominent pipeline projects in recent years, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain, opinion has not really changed since our measurement last year,” said Abacus in a Sept. 9 news release.

“For the Kinder Morgan project, opinion in BC is different from what we find in other parts of the country, but perhaps not to the extent that might be imagined.”

“In that province, 27% support, 32% oppose and 29% say they can support the project under some circumstances.”

Among NDP voters nationwide, whose federal and provincial party leaders oppose traditional infrastructure investment like building pipelines, fewer than 40 per cent are against the Kinder Morgan expansion project.

This surprising divide is likely because of traditional support for the party among unionized workers who build and operate economically critical infrastructure such as pipelines. The so-called “hardhat vote” is a crucial constituency for any NDP government that wishes to succeed.

The poll emphasized that energy, pipeline and climate issues have been among the most highly charged political debates in Canada for several years. It argues there has been an evolution of opinion: concerns about climate change have deepened, and belief that the world is going to transition away from oil has grown.

When asked to choose between two alternatives: building new pipelines while pursuing efforts to reduce emissions, or building no new pipelines to avoid contributing to climate change, the large majority continues to support a transition strategy, as was the case in 2016.

Other highlights

  • Most Canadians (70%) believe that “pipelines play an essential role in delivering the energy we all use every day” and an essential role in the economy of Canada (68%).
  • People are far more likely to agree (63%) than disagree (22%) that pipelines deliver a huge amount of energy across Canada with few incidents.
  • The majority believes that Canadian pipeline companies put a lot of effort into ensuring safe operation and that pipelines are subject to rigorous oversight by government. C
  • Anxiety about pipelines is a function of two types of concern: for 27% it is a concern about the risk of spills, but for more people (37%) it has to do with a desire to see a shift away from fossil fuels.
  • Those opposed to Kinder Morgan and Keystone specifically tend to be much more likely to feel there is a high risk of spills (46%-44%), while very few supporters feel the same way (13%-14%).
  • In BC and Quebec, concerns about spills are higher than average, while among younger people, hesitation is more likely tied to a desire to see a shift away from fossil fuels.

In 2017, one thing is becoming clear. Our prosperity depends on our abundant natural resources. We must embrace both resources and the environment to ensure lasting, dependable opportunities for our families and communities.

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September 12th, 2017

Posted In: Resource Works

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