The BC Public’s Attitude

There have been three extensive BC polls completed over the past two years to gauge public reaction to the pipeline and refinery. Mustel completed a poll in March 2013 that had similar results to the other two:

  • The majority of B.C. residents agree that BC and Canada should add value to natural resources before exporting (86%), that it is better to refine bitumen within B.C. rather than offshore (76%), and agree with diversifying exports to find markets beyond the United States for Canada’s petroleum products (70%).
  • Only 30% of BC residents are in favour of the current Northern Gateway Pipeline plan to ship unrefined bitumen offshore (57% oppose and 13% unsure).
  • If an environmentally sound method of transporting bitumen from Alberta to the refinery in BC can be found, support for the refinery proposal is 66%, opposition is 24% and 10% are unsure.
  • Without the foregoing assurance, after being provided with basic information about the refinery, 52% express support for the proposal, 39% oppose it and 9% are unsure.
  • The main reasons for supporting the proposal include economic benefits for BC, and the creation of jobs within the province.
  • The main reasons for opposing the proposal are general concerns for the environment but these concerns appear to be more related to the transport of bitumen to the refinery and climate change issues, rather than to the refinery itself.
  • In summary, if environmental concerns can be addressed related to the transport of bitumen, there is strong support for the proposed refinery from all regions of the province. Even before hearing about the FT refinery design which will dramatically reduce greenhouse gases, two out of three support the concept.

Note that in November 2013 the BC Chamber of Commerce completed another poll of BC attitudes toward the Northern Gateway proposal. The words “bitumen” and “tanker” were not used in the questions asked and the result was roughly 50% public acceptance of the idea.