Backgrounder: Three in four British Columbians support ban on crude oil tanker traffic

Mustel Provincial Omnibus poll

501 respondents
Survey Conducted: January 10-16, 2006
Methodology: Random sample of 501 BC adults, 18 years of age and over
Margin of Error: +/- 4.4% at the 95% confidence level

  1. Since 1972 the Canadian federal government has banned oil tankers from transporting crude oil through BC’s inside passage to protect the coast from oil spills. Now Ottawa is considering allowing oil tankers to transport crude oil through our coastal waters. In your opinion, should we ban or allow oil tanker traffic in BC’s inside coastal waters.
    Ban oil tanker traffic


    Allow oil tanker traffic






  2. Which one of the following do you feel should be Canada’s top priority with regard to energy over the next decade? Should…
    New sources of oil, like the Alberta Tar Sands


    New alternatives to oil, like wind and solar power, or


    New energy efficient technologies that conserve power….
    ….be Canada’s top priority with regard to energy over the next decade




Strategic Communications National Omnibus poll

(808 respondents)
December 27 – January 3, 2006, (±3.4% 19/20)

For 33 years there has been a moratorium stopping all exploration and development for oil and natural gas in Canadian waters off the west coast. Some people in industry and the government now want to start exploratory drilling for oil and gas. Others say the risk of environmental harm is not worth it. Do you agree or disagree that the moratorium against all offshore oil and gas exploration should stay in place?

Strongly agree


Somewhat agree


Neither agree nor disagree


Somewhat disagree


Strongly disagree
Don’t Know/No answer


The moratorium on offshore oil and gas in British Columbia has been protecting the coast since 1972. However, since 2001, the federal government has been under pressure from the provincial government to lift the moratorium.

An additional threat to our coast comes from the Enbridge proposal of two parallel pipelines as part of its $4 billion Gateway project. One pipeline would carry from 800 000 to 1,000,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude from Edmonton to Kitimat where it would then be loaded onto tankers and shipped to China, India and California. The second pipeline would follow the same route but would import condensate, a toxic mix of chemicals and petroleum derivates needed to ease the flow of oil through pipelines. If approved, 3 to 6 tankers a week have to travel 100 kilometers through the inside passage and coastal waters, another 140 kilometers up a fjord to transport crude from an oil tanker terminal in Kitimat, BC.
Enbridge estimates that only 45 permanent jobs would be created along the pipeline in BC.

The threats to the BC coast and the global environment from the oil and gas industry are numerous and include the risk of oil spills and climate change. Increased tanker traffic will only intensify these risks, in particular considering Kitimat is 150 km up narrow channels and fjords from the open ocean, making travel extremely hazardous, especially in winter. Environment Canada says that we can expect more than 100 small spills, about 10 moderate spills and at least one major spill every year at current levels of tanker traffic.

Industry considers a 15% recovery of an oil spill a success; even in perfect conditions a full recovery has never been achieved. Given that weather on the BC coast can be quite extreme with winds at over 25 knots in winter and waves reaching three stories in height- any spill in this region would have devastating environmental and economic consequences.


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