Poll finds support for oil pipeline

A poll finds many unfamiliar with Enbridge's proposed pipeline, but many who are support the idea.

Greenpeace protest against Enbridge's Northern Gateway project at the company's office in downtown Vancouver in 2010.

By Tom Fletcher, Black Press

A poll commissioned by Enbridge Inc. has found that most B.C. residents are not familiar with the proposed oil pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. north coast, but many of those who are support the idea.

In the Ipsos-Reid online survey of 1,000 B.C. residents in mid-December, four out of 10 respondents described themselves as “very familiar or “somewhat familiar” with the proposal build a twinned pipeline that would carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands to a new tanker port at Kitimat. Of those who were familiar with the project, 48 per cent supported it while 32 per cent said they are opposed.

The poll’s release comes as a federal environmental review panel prepares to begin hearings on the project. With thousands of participants registered to speak, the hearings begin Jan. 10 at Kitimaat Village, a Haisla community near Kitimat. The panel moves to Terrace Jan. 12 and then convenes in Prince Rupert for at least eight days starting Feb. 16.

With more than 4,000 people registered to speak, the panel has extended its deadline a year and expects to issue a report on the project by the fall of 2013.

Poll respondents were asked to name one main benefit and one main concern from the pipeline. About half specified jobs and economic benefits. The top concern was general environmental concerns (43 per cent) with 21 per cent citing the risk of spills or leaks.

One in five respondents said they are undecided about whether to support the pipeline.

The project includes a smaller pipeline to carry condensate, a kerosene-like byproduct of natural gas production, to a site near Edmonton where it would be mixed with bitumen extracted from the oil sands. The mixture would then be carried back to Kitimat in a larger pipeline.

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