For Canadians, energy infrastructure needs trump environment, poll suggests

OTTAWA — New federal government research suggests a majority of Canadians think the economic benefits of expanding energy infrastructure trump the potential environmental impact of such expansion.

But the same internal poll shows that a majority of respondents don’t have confidence in the government’s ability to respond to an environmental emergency like an oil spill.

The Harris Decima survey, conducted for Natural Resources Canada, asked 3,030 people their views on a range of energy issues over a two-week period in July.

Forty-six per cent of respondents said building energy infrastructure was important to the economy, even if there was environmental impact, but 41 per cent felt the environmental risk was too high.

Meanwhile, most weren’t confident in the government’s ability to effectively manage oil spills on land or water.

The survey followed two weeks of detailed focus groups on the same subjects, where the environmental drawbacks of pipeline construction were also a key concern.

The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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