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Poll Finds Most B.C. Residents Still Strongly Oppose Enbridge Oil Tanker and Pipeline Proposal

According to a recent poll commissioned by four environmental groups, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of residents in British Columbia oppose Enbridge's plan to transport crude oil through B.C. using the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and oil tankers.

The hybrid telephone-online poll, conducted by Justason Market Intelligence, found that 50 per cent of B.C. residents strongly oppose the Enbridge proposal, compared to 12 per cent who strongly support it.

The poll was commissioned by Dogwood Initiative, ForestEthics Advocacy, Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research and West Coast Environmental Law. Six hundred adult British Columbians were surveyed from January 13 to January 19, 2014 through random telephone sampling and Justason's online panel.

"When British Columbians actually get the facts about oil tanker and pipeline proposals, their opposition is overwhelming," said Will Horter, executive director of Dogwood Initiative. "Other polls in the past few months have only talked about pipelines, with no mention of the crude oil supertankers that would inevitably come with them."

Image: Oil Tanker Traffic in B.C.: The B.C. Outlook Omnibus / Justason Market Intelligence

This is the first poll released about Enbridge's oil tanker and pipeline proposal since the National Review Board's controversial joint review panel (JRP) report recommended conditional approval of the project in December.

When asked whether they trust the review process, 51 per cent of B.C. residents said they distrust the process, 32 per cent said they trust it, and 17 per cent were unsure.

"These polling results bring home why the Enbridge tanker and pipeline proposal is going nowhere fast — despite the JRP recommendation," said Jessica Clogg of the West Coast Environmental Law Association. "Residents of B.C. continue to withhold 'social licence' for the project, while multiple First Nations lawsuits threaten to derail it and the government of B.C. formally opposed the Enbridge project."

According to the poll, a significant majority of British Columbians (79 per cent) feel that decisions about projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal should be made with public participation, while only 13 per cent feel that such decisions should be made solely by government.

"British Columbians simply do not accept closed door decision-making and know they deserve a say. Any politicians thinking of cutting a backroom deal do so at their peril," Horter said.

A March 2012 Justason Market Intelligence poll had nearly identical results with 66 per cent of B.C. residents opposing the Enbridge proposal, and 50 per cent strongly opposed.

"For all the millions of dollars Enbridge has spent in advertising over the past two years, opposition to this proposal hasn't budged," said Sven Biggs of ForestEthics Advocacy.

Image Credit: Travis Blanston / Flickr

Indrapramit Das is a freelance writer, critic and artist. His work has appeared in Slant Magazine, Vancouver Weekly, Strange Horizons…

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