Environment Media release

Media release: Poll: Half of Nova Scotians don’t support BP drilling for oil offshore Nova Scotia

Ahead of a major conference on ‘Canada’s East Coast energy future’, new polling indicates slightly more Nova Scotians are likely to oppose than support BP drilling offshore Nova Scotia.

“Government officials are meeting with representatives of fossil fuel, clean energy industries, and First Nations leaders to talk about our energy future this week,” says Robin Tress of The Council of Canadians. “We think they need to hear the message that drilling offshore for oil needs to be part of our past, not our future.”

The Corporate Research Associates poll, commissioned by The Council of Canadians, found 54 per cent of Nova Scotians asked opposed BP drilling offshore for oil, while 44 per cent supported. The question recognized BP’s association with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the federal government’s assessment that the project is unlikely to cause negative environmental effects.

BP, a ‘silver sponsor’ of the Maritime Energy Association Core conference, has re-started drilling its first of seven proposed offshore exploratory wells. This follows a forced pause caused by a spill of 136,000 litres of synthetic drilling mud 61 days after drilling began.

“BP drilled and BP has already spilled. Approval happened without public consultations in the very communities that stand to be impacted most from a major spill,” says Marion Moore from the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS). “We are calling for a public inquiry into offshore drilling in Nova Scotia and a moratorium until this happens. Drilling is proceeding without regard for the impact it will have on our fisheries or tourism industries, and without meeting the highest oil spill prevention and response standards, which our communities deserve.”

The poll also found an overwhelming majority of Nova Scotians, 90 per cent, support requiring a capping stack – equipment used to temporarily seal ruptured deepwater oil wells – be located within 24 hour transport of offshore drilling sites. While the UK, Norway, and Alaska require this, BP’s Nova Scotian plans involve mobilizing one located in Norway, which would take at least 12 days to arrive.

Dr. Robert Bea, an engineer with forty-eight years of experience, described feeling ‘déjà vu,’ comparing BP’s Nova Scotia plans with its plans to drill offshore Australia. After the Australian government implemented further safety measures, on the good advice of Dr. Bea and other experts including requiring a capping stack nearby, BP withdrew its proposal to drill.

Dr. Bea, who investigated the BP Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez oil spills, concluded BP failed to properly assess, document, and validate the risk of its drilling offshore Nova Scotia.

“I believe as Nova Scotians learn about BP and the plans for drilling offshore, opposition will grow,” says Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of The Council of Canadians. “Not only does a major spill present local risks, this summer’s extreme climate events – from wildfires to torrential rain to heat waves – is a wakeup call to stop expanding the production of fossil fuels and plan instead for a just transition to a sustainable energy future.”

The Council of Canadians and CPONS are organizing a series of events this week responding to the Maritime Energy Association’s Core conference, including a rally, public panels in Mahone Bay and Halifax, and a flotilla. All of the events will send a clear message that offshore drilling needs to be part of our past, not our future.

The polling results are available here and the polling report is available here.

The poll used a probability telephone survey, from August 16 to September 1, 2018, of a random sample of 400 adults aged 18+ years from Nova Scotia. Overall results are accurate within ± 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Margins of error for sub-samples will vary by size and are available upon request.

For more information or to arrange interviews:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, dpenner@canadians.org. Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs