Less than half of British Columbians are supportive of the provincial government’s push for liquefied natural gas (LNG), and only 23% support the process of hydraulic fracturing, according to a poll released on Thursday by Insights West.
Results are based on an online study conducted from March 16 to March 18, among 802 adult residents of British Columbia, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. In the survey of a representative sample, 43% of British Columbians support the provincial government’s intention to expand the development and export of LNG, while 41% are opposed. This is a significant change from the numbers registered in August 2013, when 50% of residents welcomed the proclaimed LNG expansion and only 32% opposed it, Insights West said in a press release.
The drop in support for LNG expansion is accompanied by hardened views on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – the procedure by which oil and gas companies inject water and chemicals into the ground to fracture underlying shale rock formations and extract natural gas. Three-in-five British Columbians (62%) say they are familiar with fracking and more than half (55%) say the procedure is currently being done in the province. However, only 23% of residents support fracking, while 61% (+14 since August 2013) are opposed to it, the release said.
When asked about some of the benefits of fracking, 54% of British Columbians believe it will lead to more jobs in the province, and say LNG is more environmentally friendly than coal or other fuels (also 54%). While 51% think fracking will lead to more foreign investment in the province, only 41% believe it will lower natural gas prices by increasing supply and less than two-in-five (37%) expect fracking to make British Columbia a world leader in exporting LNG.
More than three-in-five British Columbians are concerned about specific effects of fracking, including the perception of containment ponds being an environmental hazard (68%), the negative impact and alteration of the landscape (62%) and the contamination of the water supply (also 62%). More than half are also worried about fracking triggering earthquakes (57%), causing increased health problems among residents (53%) and leading to higher carbon emissions (51%).
Only 15% of British Columbians (-6 since August 2013) think LNG will bring significant benefits to all BC residents, while 42% (+3) believe it will exclusively benefit some communities. Three-in-ten British Columbians (28%, +6) say LNG will not bring benefits to most B.C. residents, the release said.