New Brunswick

Shale gas poll finds New Brunswickers divided on issue

New Brunswickers remain divided on shale gas development in the province, according to a recent poll by Corporate Research Associates.

Survey by CRA finds 41 per cent support shale gas development, while 45 per cent oppose

New Brunswickers remain divided on shale gas development in the province, according to a recent poll by Corporate Research Associates. 2:07

New Brunswickers remain divided on shale gas development in the province, according to a recent poll by Corporate Research Associates.

The poll found residents are just as likely to support shale gas exploration and development as they are to oppose the industry.

Of the 400 residents polled, 41 per cent of respondents completely or mostly supported a shale gas industry in New Brunswick, while 45 per cent completely or mostly opposed the idea.

No opinion was offered by 14 per cent of respondents.

"Shale gas development continues to be a divisive issue in New Brunswick," said Don Mills, CRA's chairman and CEO.

Based on the nearly even split in opinion, this issue is one of these 'can't win' political problems dreaded by government.- Don Mills, CRA chairman and CEO

"Based on the nearly even split in opinion, this issue is one of these 'can't win' political problems dreaded by government."

The poll was carried out in November, before the Gallant government introduced its legislation to block any hydraulic fracturing for shale gas through any means until more is known about potential effects on the environment and a "social licence" is established to proceed with development of a shale gas industry.

September's provincial election played out with shale gas development a wedge issue between the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals. The Conservatives' campaign was pro-development while the Liberals stood by their earlier calls for a moratorium.

Shale gas exploration by SWN Resources Canada in 2013 was met with public resistance in Kent County. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)
Gallant's Liberals formed the government with 26 seats, compared to 22 for David Alward's Conservatives, while the Green Party captured one seat with the election of party leader David Coon.

The CRA survey found residents of northern New Brunswick and Moncton are more likely to oppose a shale gas industry than those in the south.

Men and those with higher household incomes are more likely than others to support shale gas development, according to the survey.

CRA surveyed 400 adult New Brunswickers by telephone between Nov. 6 and Nov. 26. The overall results are considered accurate to within 4.9 percentage points, 95 per cent of the time.

Hydraulic fracturing commonly involves injecting water, chemicals and sand into the earth at high pressure to fracture shale rock to release the natural gas within it. Opponents say the process could harm groundwater supplies.

Propane is another substance sometimes used to extract natural gas from shale rock beneath the earth's surface.

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