New poll: Northern Gateway pipeline project supported by B.C. residents


Photo by kk+ |

Although the Northern Gateway project has been a hot topic for environmental groups, it seems like the concerns aren't as widely spread as we'd hope. A recent poll shows that most British Columbians support the Northern Gateway pipeline project, one that is bound to cause oil spills all along its path.

Upon further investigation, we found the Ipsos-Reid survey was funded by the company itself – Calgary’s Enbridge Incorporation. Their poll greatly opposes the perception that most people will not support the pipeline project, according to Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway.

An online poll has released to 1,000 British Columbians between December 12-15 of last year. Questions on this poll included; “Based on what you know to date, would you say that you generally support or oppose the Northern Gateway pipelines project?” 14% strongly supported the project, 18% somewhat opposed the initiative, 13% strongly opposed it, and 20% did know or did not want to say. When respondents were asked about the main benefits of the project, 61% responded with “employment/economic/export/trade”. When asked about risks, 43% responded with “general environmental”, 21% with “risk of oil spills/leaks”, and only 5% recorded “pollution” as a risk.

Although the poll does shed light into the situation, there is reason to question its source and the funders behind it. A different poll made by ForestEthics, an opposing group to the project, shows very different results. They asked, “Based on what you currently know, would you say you support or oppose Enbridge’s proposal to build an oil pipeline from the tar sands and bring oil tanker traffic to B.C.’s North Coast?” The result? 32% strongly opposed the project, compared to the 13% from Enbridge's poll.

These polls show us the importance of proper polling when making important environmental decisions. Although we can't simply take either of these polls for face value, the discrepancy shows the need to dive into the numbers and find root causes for differentiation. The environmental assessment process, if done in an equitable fashion, should be able to assist us in finding out how we, as humans, truly value the environment.