A strong majority of Canadians want a ban on fracking, the controversial drilling practice that blows apart rock formations to force more and more oil and gas to the surface, according to an EKOS poll.
Seventy percent of Canadians, including a substantial number of Conservative party members, support “a national moratorium on fracking until it is scientifically proven to be safe,” according to the poll sponsored by the Council of Canadians.
“Regardless of age, region or education, people from coast to coast are calling for an end to fracking,” said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson for the council in a statement. “Communities understand very well the impacts that fracking has on water sources, climate and public health. With the moratoriums in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, it’s clearly the way communities want governments to go.”
Support for a ban cut across party lines with nearly half of Conservative voters supporting a moratorium. The highest support came from NDP voters at 87% and Liberals at 78%. The Green Party is the only federal Canadian party calling for a national moratorium.
“Based on these numbers, political parties may want to rethink their positions to put them in line with what the population wants,” said Emma Lui, a water campaigner for the council.
Though the technology has been around for decades, hydraulic fracturing has exploded on the scene in recent years as the oil industry seeks to enhance the flow of oil from hard to reach places. The process involves shooting a cocktail of secret goo, along with millions of gallons of water, into the earth to break up rock formations and liberate the oil so we can all burn more fossil fuels.
In Texas and North Dakota the technique has surged U.S. oil production. The US is now the world’s largest oil producer, producing 11 million barrels a day of oil this year, surpassing both Russia and Saudi Arabia.
But the technique comes with huge environmental and financial risks. Fracking is expensive and risky because production rates from fields can drop off sharply, meaning the industry needs to constantly drill to keep up flow rates. The industry is under pressure to finance the drilling with the recent sharp drop in oil prices to around the $90 a barrel mark.
“Shale wells start strong and fade fast, and producers are drilling at a breakneck pace to hold output steady,” according to story by Bloomberg Businessweek. “In the fields, this incessant need to drill is known as the Red Queen, after the character in Through the Looking-Glass who tells Alice, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”
Fracking also depletes and damages water resources, and can spark earthquakes as it has done in Oklahoma. The waste water from fracking is growing burden in the United States as it is dangerous to store. And on top of all this a big worry about fracking is that it extends the life of fossil fuels when we know we should be transitioning to cleaner fuels to help battle global warming.
Opening up large swaths of densely populated areas to fracking also wreaks havoc on communities and farmlands. Pennsylvania has been struggling with the gas fracking in their once pristine rural communities and strong grass roots opposition has sprung up to fight the oil companies.
The poll of 1,000 adult Canadians across the country was conducted in September and was released ahead of the so-called Global Frackdown on Saturday, an international day of protest against fracking.
Other results of the poll:
- 67% of people are aware of fracking (25% are very aware; 42% are somewhat aware)
- 70% of people support a moratorium on fracking, which is fairly consistent across age groups, regions, income groups and education
- 78% of Liberal voters, 49% of Conservative voters and 87% of NDP voters support a moratorium
- 53% of Liberal voters and 67% of NDP voters strongly support a moratorium
Click to see the full poll data tables.