Survey shows strong public support for reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations and aligning rules with the United States

Toronto, Ont. – Albertans want their provincial government to take a stricter approach to methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, according to a new survey of 1,026 residents of the province conducted by EKOS Research Associates and commissioned by Environmental Defence.

Alberta is in the process of writing new methane regulations for the oil and gas industry and most survey respondents – 71 per cent – think the province’s rules for methane emissions should be at least as strict as the rules in oil and gas producing U.S. states. Only 15 per cent want Alberta to take a less strict approach than the United States.

As one example, all U.S. states that regulate these industry emissions require some form of quarterly inspections to find and fix methane leaks – but Alberta does not currently require any inspections. As the province develops its methane regulations, this is one key benchmark by which these regulations will be judged.

“Many people don’t realize that Canada lags behind the U.S. when it comes to regulating methane,” said Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “This survey shows that most Albertans want the oil and gas industry to pull its weight. They support stricter limits on methane emissions, and they want companies to do more to prevent and repair methane leaks.”

Most respondents also oppose the practice of venting, where methane is intentionally released into the atmosphere by oil and gas facilities, even though off-the-shelf technologies exist that could capture the gas instead. A majority – 63 per cent – think Alberta should ban venting, following the lead of several U.S. states, while only 21 per cent think the practice should continue in the province.

“When informed that their province lags behind the U.S. on methane regulations, Albertans express a strong desire to join the front of the class – there is clear support to match or surpass what our neighbours are doing – and very little support for weaker policies,” said Frank Graves, President of EKOS Research Associates.

Two-thirds of Albertans – 66 per cent – also support creating a legal limit on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Some in the oil and gas industry propose a different approach, which would rely on voluntary guidelines instead of mandatory rules to cut methane emissions, but only 28 per cent of respondents support that approach.

Full survey results are available here and details on the methodology are provided below.

Methodology

The survey was conducted by EKOS Research Associates using their unique, hybrid online/telephone research panel, Probit. The field dates for this survey were July 26 to August 8, 2017. In total, a sample of 1,026 Albertans aged 18 and over responded to the survey, 603 online and 423 by phone. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Probit panel offers exhaustive coverage of the Canadian population (i.e., Internet, phone, cell phone), random recruitment (in other words, participants are recruited randomly, they do not opt themselves into our panel) and equal probability sampling. All respondents to our panel are recruited by telephone using random digit dialling and are confirmed by live interviewers. Unlike opt-in online panels, Probit supports margin of error estimates.

Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, and region to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 247416-356-2587 (cell) abraude@environmentaldefence.ca