As RAVEN gears up to launch a new campaign to support the Madii Lii opponents of Petronas’ LNG project in northern BC, it’s interesting to learn that only 25 per cent of British Columbians support fracking in the province.
According to the Vancouver Sun, this is in stark contrast with the 50 per cent who are in favour of the provincial government’s intention to expand the development and export of LNG. Somehow, people have yet to realize that fracking=LNG and that this form of fossil fuel extraction, when seen from the wellhead to the burner tip, is every bit as carbon-intensive as coal.
From today’s Sun:
For the past three years, British Columbians have been unable to evade discussions about energy. At the start of the debate, the focus was placed on the Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion projects. Now, the implications of the nascent liquefied natural gas industry have become more prevalent, especially for the provincial government.
British Columbians, along with Quebecers, have traditionally been the most environmentally friendly of all Canadians. We are more likely to believe humans cause climate change, more likely to demand action from politicians and more likely to do something ourselves than residents of other provinces.
This unanimity on environmental awareness is not present when it comes to energy. The numbers show two very distinct groups in British Columbia that do not see eye to eye on the need to balance economic growth with environmental stewardship.
The latest round of polling from Insights West continues to show a large proportion of residents voicing opposition to both the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion. However, the way residents are assembled into two explicit clusters tells us a lot about expectations and motivations.
Supporters of the two proposed pipeline projects are more likely to be male, have reached their 55th birthday, and live in the Southern Interior and Northern B.C. They tend to lean Conservative federally and Liberal provincially. They look at the issue from the standpoint of job creation and revenue for the province.
Opponents of the two proposed pipeline projects are more likely to be female, be 18 to 34 years old, and live in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island. They tend to lean toward the New Democratic Party and the Green party (both federally and provincially). They regard pipelines as a treacherous alternative, especially when it comes to the possibility of oil spills and the increase in tanker traffic that the Northern Gateway would bring.
The group of opponents is slightly larger than the group of supporters for both proposed projects.
Still, this does not mean that the attitudes are completely entrenched. Even opponents of the Northern Gateway believe it will bring jobs. Even supporters of the project are concerned about the possibility of an oil spill. What’s been missing, at least over the past year, is a champion from the British Columbia government to publicly and effectively discuss these issues. One of the reasons for this reticence is the provincial focus on LNG.
A year ago, we found out that only 25 per cent of British Columbians support fracking in the province. This is in stark contrast with the 50 per cent who are in favour of the provincial government’s intention to expand the development and export of LNG. Fracking — short for hydraulic fracturing, the controversial process for extracting natural gas from previously untappable deposits — makes British Columbians think twice about their dreams of an LNG industry that will fill the government’s coffers and provide ample revenue for the province.
The main difference when LNG and the proposed pipeline projects are assessed is that a massive demographic fluctuation is not observed when British Columbians are asked about fracking. We found that 47 per cent of those 18 to 34 oppose the practice, along with 40 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 and 51 per cent of those over the age of 55. This is enormously significant. Our oldest residents, who are more likely to see benefits from pipeline expansion, are also more reticent about supporting the push for LNG because of fracking than their younger, arguably more environmentally friendly, counterparts.
LNG will continue to be regarded as a cleaner energy export, as long as residents do not hear the word “fracking” in advertising or government communications.