Public attitudes on LNG start to sour

An LNG container ship off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago

61 per cent of British Columbians have concerns about fracking—and that’s affecting what they think of LNG

Public perceptions of B.C.’s nascent liquified natural gas industry are souring, according to a survey conducted by polling firm Insights West. Forty-three per cent of respondents said that they were in favour of the government’s support for LNG, while 41 per cent were opposed—that’s down from 50 per cent in favour and 32 per cent opposed when B.C.-ers  were polled in August 2013.
Among the eroding perceptions: the benefits B.C.-ers think LNG will bring. A paltry 15 per cent of British Columbians said that they agreed with the statement that LNG would bring significant benefits to all B.C. residents (down from 21 per cent in 2013), while 28 responded that they did not believe that LNG would bring benefits to most B.C. residents. And while the poll found more positive sentiments toward certain aspects—54 per cent said that they believed LNG would boost jobs, and 54 per cent also felt that it was more environmentally than coal or other fuels—the culprit may be the industry’s practice of fracking, said Mario Canseco, VP of public affairs at Insight West.
“The public’s distaste towards fracking is playing a role in perceptions of the provincial government’s actions on the LNG file,” said Canseco in a statement. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique by which extractors inject a mix of water and chemicals into deep shale rock formations to extract natural gas. While the practice has a long history in Western Canada, it’s association with fracking-triggered earthquakes and heated debates in parts of the U.S. where fracking is a relatively new technique, have perhaps solidified perceptions in British Columbia. 
Only 23 per cent of residents support fracking, while 61 per cent are opposed—up 14 per cent since Insights West last asked the question in August 2013. Among the concerns cited, 61 per cent cited perception of containment ponds being an environmental hazard, 62 per cent cited contamination of the water supply or alteration of the landscape, 57 per cent cited earthquakes, and 51 per cent cited higher carbon emissions.
The results are based on a study conducted in March among a sample of 802 adult residents of B.C. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

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