Canadian support for the Keystone XL pipeline has begun to drop off, according to a new poll.
The poll, released Thursday by Nanos Research Group, surveyed 1,000 Canadians in mid-December and found that 52 percent of them supported building Keystone XL, a result that’s down 16 percentage points from 68 percent in April. The poll also found opposition for the pipeline grew to 40 percent, up from 28 percent in April. Canadians’ views of Keystone XL have also soured, according to the poll: 48 percent said they have a positive or somewhat positive impression of the pipeline, down from 60 percent in April.
Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research and Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told Bloomberg he thinks the poll’s results could make the Canadian government concerned for the future of the project.
“This has implications for the anti-Keystone movement in both countries,” he said.
The new poll brings the Canadian support level on par with the most recent U.S. polls on Keystone XL. A December Bloomberg National Poll found 56 percent of American respondents supported the project, but that 58 percent also supported requirements that Canada reduced carbon dioxide emissions of the project.
The poll also comes as Canadian government projections predict that emissions in the country will increase by 38 percent by 2030, largely due to expanding extraction of the tar sands. Emissions from the tar sands are predicted to quadruple between 2005 and 2030, reaching levels of 137 million Metric tons — more, according to Tar Sands Solutions, than the combined emissions of every Canadian province east of Ontario.
“Who’d have imagined that digging up the tar sands would somehow add carbon to the atmosphere?” 350.org founder Bill McKibben told the Guardian. “That Canada watched the Arctic melt and then responded like this will be remembered by history.”
McKibben and other environmentalists have fought against Keystone XL in the hopes that a denial of the project will put a kink in the development of the Alberta tar sands. On Wednesday, executives for TransCanada and Cenovus warned that if Canada doesn’t build the pipelines to transport its tar sands now, it could lose the opportunity to do so — meaning that decisions on projects like Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipeline could be key to Canada’s tar sands development.
The State Department’s final environmental impact statement on Keystone XL has yet to be released, and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who has been pushing White House officials to speed up their decision making process, said he thinks the EIS will come sometime after the president’s State of the Union address on January 28.