Sask. residents see benefits of Energy East despite July’s oil spill

  • 31 Aug 2016
  • The StarPhoenix

Pipeline support economy-based: poll

Sask. residents see benefits of Energy East despite July’s oil spill

Protests in Quebec and the aftermath of a major oil spill in Saskatchewan last month have not turned Saskatchewan residents against TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline project, according to a new Mainstreet/Postmedia poll.

“I think it’s a risk Saskatchewanians are willing to take if it means jump-starting the Saskatchewan economy,” said David Valentin, Mainstreet Research’s Montreal-based executive vice-president.

Poll respondents were 67 per cent in favour of the massive 4,600 kilometre pipeline that would carry Saskatchewan and Alberta crude to Eastern Canada, while 19 per cent disapproved and 14 per cent said they weren’t sure.

Only 47 per cent of respondents said they approved of the provincial government’s response to the July 20 Husky Energy Inc. oil spill, which suggests two-thirds of the province thinks about Energy East in purely economic terms, Valentin said.

“I think that Premier (Brad) Wall’s advocacy for Energy East has really made it one of the keystone things that Saskatchewan can contribute to Canada,” he added. “They really do see the economy intertwined with Energy East, and the premier has been talking about the fact that Energy East will create all these jobs, will create all this revenue, will create all this growth.”

Greg Poelzer, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability, said the “overwhelming support” for Energy East displayed in the poll suggests people in Western Canada harbour no illusions about pipelines.

Notwithstanding the Husky spill, Saskatchewan residents understand that moving crude by pipeline is “vastly, vastly safer” than hauling it by rail, and provides the added benefit of not taking up rolling stock that could be used to move grain, he said.

“I think people understand that dimension, that if we’re going to ship oil — and I think it’s folly to think that oil won’t be shipped — why wouldn’t you ship it by the most environmentally safe way, and the most (profitable)?”

The poll surveyed 1,690 people Aug. 22 and 23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.38 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Pipeline approval was lowest among younger people; 64 per cent between the ages of 18 and 34 voiced their support. Approval was highest among those older than 65 — 71 per cent supported the project.

Poelzer said while young people tend to prefer renewable resources, the reality of Western Canada’s economy means it’s possible to reconcile support for projects like Energy East and the renewables sector.


About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on August 31, 2016, in economic impact, oil, political. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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