The majority of Albertans appear to be on the same page as the majority of other Canadians on feeling that it’s time to give up the fight to get a new section of the Keystone XL pipeline built, according to the results of a survey that were released on Tuesday.
The Ipsos poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, saw 44 per cent of respondents say they would rather see Canada focus on building infrastructure within its own borders to transport and refine Canadian oil and natural gas products for international markets.
That number rose by twelve points (56 per cent) when looking at respondents from Alberta.
Thirty-eight per cent of respondents said Canada should focus on priorities other than getting its oil and gas products to international markets, while only 18 per cent said they feel Canada should continue to press the Biden administration to reverse its decision on the contentious pipeline – a number that only rose to 21 per cent when looking at those from Alberta.
In one of his first acts after being inaugurated as U.S. president last month, Joe Biden signed an executive order that revoked the permit allowing for further construction of the 1,947-kilometre pipeline. Had it been completed, the line was to have delivered 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., before being transported to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Darrell Bricker, the CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, said he believes the response suggests “Canadians are starting to see the United States as not really as much of a realistic option in terms of exporting oil and gas products as they may have seen them in the past, even though the United States remains our largest trade partner when it comes to oil and gas products.”
“There’s a recognition that there’s going to be four years where it’s probably going to be a lot tougher to get a hearing in the United States about exporting Canadian oil and gas to that marketplace through a pipeline, because we’re still obviously going to be doing it with rail traffic and other methods of getting it to the U.S. marketplace,” he said.
“But Canadians are starting to look at their own jurisdiction as the place to lay down infrastructure, particularly pipeline infrastructure, to allow the transport of oil and gas products from border to border.”
The results of the single-question survey, which allowed respondents to select one of three options for what Canada should do in light of Biden’s decision on the pipeline, showed that older people were more inclined to want Ottawa to develop more domestic oil sector infrastructure than younger people.
Of those respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, 35 per cent said they want to see infrastructure built within Canada to transport and refine the country’s oil and natural gas resources for international markets. That number rose to 45 per cent when it came to respondents between the ages of 35 and 54 and to 50 per cent among those 55 and older.
Of those respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, 46 per cent said they would now like to see Canada focus on other priorities. That number dropped to 37 per cent among respondents between the ages of 35 and 54 and then down to 33 per cent among those 55 and older.
“It’s a consistent finding that we see that when you talk about the future of oil and gas,” Bricker said about the different trends among various age groups. “You tend to find older Canadians have a more positive predisposition to it than younger Canadians.
“You see it on just about everything you ask… on the future of the oil and gas industry.”
Bricker noted that the responses from Quebec seemed to stand out from those in other provinces when it comes to the future of oil and gas.
Quebec was the only region in which over half (58 per cent) of respondents answered that they would like to see Ottawa focus on priorities other than the transport and refinement of Canada’s oil and gas.
Bricker said he believes the answers from Quebec may be influenced by the fact that the province’s energy production centres on hydroelectricity.
“So it’s not surprising that we continue to see that oil and gas just does not do as well in Quebec as it does in other parts of the country,” he said.
Last spring, TC Energy approved spending US$8 billion to complete the Keystone XL expansion after the Alberta government agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion as equity and guarantee a US$4.2-billion project loan.
Premier Jason Kenney has said Alberta has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed. In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month, Kenney said he was profoundly disappointed with Biden’s decision and what he believes is a lack of sufficient response from the federal government to Alberta’s “repeated requests for your personal intervention with the incoming administration.”
Watch below: Some Global News videos about Premier Jason Kenney’s comments on the Keystone XL pipeline.
The premier has said he believes that at the very least, Ottawa should press the Biden administration to provide compensation to TC Energy and the Alberta government for billions of dollars of costs incurred in the construction to date. Kenney has also said his government is considering legal action over Biden’s executive order.
Ever since the price of oil crashed over six years ago, Alberta’s economy has struggled and those challenges have been further exposed by the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on demand for the resource. Consecutive provincial governments have sought to expand Alberta’s pipeline capacity in an effort to move more oil and bring it to new markets.
During his campaign to become U.S. president, Biden had promised to shift the American economy away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.
The executive order published on the White House website said “following an exhaustive review,” the State Department and Biden “determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest.”
“That analysis, in addition to concluding that significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs,” the order read.
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, 2021, and saw a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older be interviewed online. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18 and older been polled.
–With files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson and Caley Ramsay, and The Canadian Press’ Dan Healing