SAINT JOHN – A majority of New Brunswickers support the development of natural gas resources in the province, according to a new poll by Corporate Research Associates that was commissioned by the Atlantica Centre for Energy.
The poll conducted in August found that 61 per cent completely or mostly support the development of natural gas, up from 41 per cent in 2014 and 52 per cent in 2015. The survey also showed that opposition to natural gas development fell to 33 per cent.
Colleen Mitchell, president of the Atlantica Centre for Energy, says people are changing their minds because they’re being exposed to information that shows that the resource can be developed safely here.
“The efforts of multiple groups across the province to disseminate information has helped to debunk myths that were circulating regarding the development of natural gas in New Brunswick,” said Mitchell in a release.
“It appears that by identifying primary concerns and addressing real issues, people across New Brunswick have an increased level of confidence on the process here. The track record of Corridor Resources, which has been operating in New Brunswick without incident for over a decade, certainly is an indicator this industry can operate safely. It was critical to tone down the rhetoric and focus on the facts.”
The poll results show increased support in demographic categories that include region, gender, income level, age, and education level.
Corporate Research Associates is an independent Atlantic Canadian polling firm. The study was based on a telephone sample of 405 New Brunswick residents, with overall results accurate to within +/- 4.9 percentage points, 95 out of 100 times.
Mitchell says the poll results are timely with natural gas supplies from off-shore Nova Scotia in the process of being decommissioned and will end in December. She says New Brunswick on-shore resources are perfectly located to supply natural gas to Maritime customers.
However, there has been a moratorium in place on natural gas development in the province since the governing Liberals were elected in 2014. The party says the moratorium will remain if they’re re-elected.
In its platform, the Progressive Conservative Party says it will allow for the regional development of natural gas resources, subject to “rigorous safety and environmental protections, and with local support.”
The Green Party talks about transitioning away from energy sources like oil, coal and natural gas, and focus on renewables instead.