Half of Canadians support Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, just over half back protests against it, and some actually support both
New survey measures Canadians’ views on Keystone, KM pipelines, energy policy and gas prices
December 18, 2014 – Canadians are split in their views on the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, and the public protests that have dogged it.
An online survey of Canadian adults by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) shows a little more than half (56%) say they supported the protestors in Burnaby, BC, whose arrests and opposition to any expansion of the pipeline carrying crude oil and refined products made national headlines at the end of last month.
Almost as many (51%) say they support the proposed expansion itself. Notably, one-third of those who say they support the protests, also say they support the pipeline’s expansion.
The vast majority of all respondents (88%) say protests or no protests, the pipeline expansion will eventually go ahead.
The findings are part of a national Angus Reid Institute study into the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, the US Senate’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, opinions about falling gas prices and broad views on energy policy in this country.
Kinder Morgan Pipeline
ARI asked respondents whether they have been following the Kinder Morgan pipeline protests in news coverage, if they support or oppose the pipeline expansion, whether they support or oppose the protests, and they think the pipeline expansion will ultimately go ahead.
A quarter of Canadians say they are following the protests (23% say they are following very closely or closely). British Columbians are following the protests more closely than the rest of Canada (very closely 19%, closely 35%).Key Findings:
- More than half (57%) of Canadians support the protests against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline (16% strongly support, 41% support).
- Quebecers reflected the most support for protestors (65%).
- British Columbians were divided on this issue – with 54 per cent supporting the protests and 46 per cent opposing.
- Just over half of Canadians also said they actually support the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline (10% strongly support, 41% support).
- British Columbians were again split, with 46 per cent supporting the expansion and 54 per cent opposing it.
- The strongest support came from Alberta where nearly three-quarters of respondents strongly support /supporting the expansion (70%).
- Ultimately, the majority of Canadians say the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion will probably go ahead. One-fifth (19%) say it will go ahead despite the protesters, while the vast majority (69%) say it will go ahead, even if the protests slow it down. One-in-ten (12%) say it will never happen.
- The vast majority (41% strongly support, 47% support) of Canadians support the idea of Kinder Morgan consulting more with the communities concerned about the pipeline, and the poll shows enthusiasm for wider consultation across all major regions and other main population groups.
Keystone XL rejection in the US Senate
The Angus Reid Institute also asked Canadians whether they thought the US Senate defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline was good or bad news for Canada, our economy, the environment and Canada-US relations.
Overall, Canadians see a benefit to the environment, but tend to see the latest rejection as bad for Canada, the economy and bilateral relations.
Further analysis found that:
Two-thirds (62%) of Canadians said the rejection of the pipeline was good news for the environment, versus only one-in-seven (14%) who see it as bad news and one-in-four (24%) who are unsure.
For Canada generally, the view tilts negative: 45 per cent of those surveyed said the US Senate rejection was bad news for this country versus 34 per cent who saw it as good news. (21% were unsure) Two-thirds of Albertans view Keystone’s latest setback as bad news for Canada.
- Over half of respondents (55%) said the rejection was bad news for the Canadian economy while only one-in-five respondents said it was good news and 23% said they were unsure.
Almost three-quarters of respondents in Alberta said it was bad news for the Canadian economy.
- Canadians are not sure about the impact on Canada-US relations: while more than two-out-of-five respondents (42%) said the rejection was bad news for Canadian-US relations, five respondents (20%) said it was good news and 38 percent were not sure.
However, people say the Keystone pipeline will probably still go ahead: one-in-four (25%) say in the next few years, 64 per cent say at some point and only roughly one-in-ten (11%) say it will likely never happen.Canada’s energy policy
The ARI survey asked Canadians what they consider to be the top priority in shaping Canada’s energy policy: protecting the environment or ensuring economic growth.
Faced with this overall choice, those surveyed most of those surveyed said protecting the environment is more important than encouraging economic growth (61% versus 39%).
The survey revealed differences in opinion by political support: Conservative Party of Canada voters put precedence on the economy (63% versus 37% who would emphasize the environment) while opposition party supporters are much more likely to say the environment is most important (70% of Liberals and 73% of NDP supporters).
Canadians were also asked how important they consider five specific factors to be in terms of developing Canada’s energy policy:
- Protecting the environment was rated most important: (65% very important, 31% important), with consistent high ratings across the population.
- The cost of energy is one of three that place in a second tier in terms of importance rating (55% very important, 40% important).
- Maintaining a steady energy supply receives a very similar rating (52% very important, 44% important).
- Promoting economic growth is the third factor receiving a similar overall importance rating (44% very important, 47% important).
- The fifth factor, promoting export opportunities, received the lowest priority rating of the five factors assessed (28% very important, 51% important). This latter finding provides some additional context to Canadians’ overall orientation towards the proposed Keystone and Kinder Morgan pipelines which would exist to facilitate the export of Canadian oil.
With gas prices at a five-year low, Angus Reid Institute asked respondents what kind of impact these lower gas prices mean for them personally. Two-thirds of Canadians say the break at the pumps is a big deal for them: one-in-four (28%) described it as a major impact and they “definitely feel the savings” and another 38 percent said it has had some noticeable impact on them. Only one-in-three described the lower gas prices as having a very minor impact (22%) or no impact at all (12%).
Image Credit: Mark Klotz