Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Canadians, Americans split on tar sands

Canadians, Americans split on oil sands


June 11, 2008

CALGARY -- A majority of Canadians and Americans see the oil sands as economically important, but Canadians are more concerned about related environmental problems, a survey has found.

The study, carried out by public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, found that 75 per cent of Canadians surveyed, and 68 per cent of Americans, believe future development of the oil sands is a "good thing."

Canadian respondents, however, were divided over the question of whether economic or environmental concerns were more important.

In all, 46 per cent of Canadians surveyed said the potential environmental consequences of development were more critical, while 43 per cent said the secure supplies the region could provide were key.

Of U.S. respondents, 55 per cent said secure supply was of greater importance.

The study surveyed 500 people in each country to gauge how they are reconciling the need for new oil supplies against environmental concerns.

It also showed that less than half of American respondents were aware of the existence of the oil sands, which make up the bulk of Canada's oil production. Canada is the biggest single supplier of crude to the United States, the world's largest oil consumer.

"The results reflect a quite sophisticated knowledge of the oil sands in Canada, and balanced if polarized attitudes between environmental mitigation and economic concerns," said Fleishman-Hillard executive vice-president Linda Smith. "The onus lies on the industry to leverage these attitudes by engaging Canadians about the oil sands, both in terms of their contribution to the economy and environmental mitigation."

The survey threw up some odd results; for example, only 39 per cent of Quebeckers claimed to be aware of the existence of the oil sands, a level below that of almost every region of the United States.

Meanwhile, of those respondents saying that oil sands development is bad, only 45 per cent of Canadians, and 31 per cent of Americans, said they would support stopping the development of the oil sands if that led to paying more for their oil and natural gas.


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