STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Oilsands must go green: poll

Posted by mhudema on January 25, 2008

Politicians warned: put environment ahead of economics

Darcy Henton
Edmonton Journal / Calgary Herald

EDMONTON – A new poll in advance of a looming provincial election warns
politicians that Albertans want a green approach to future oilsands
development.

The online poll released by Cambridge Strategies Inc. Thursday suggests that
ecologically responsible and sustainable development is more important to
the majority of Albertans than expanded growth or accelerated oilsands
production.

“Albertans will not compromise on the environment when it comes to oilsands
development,” says pollster spokesman Satya Das.

He said the survey of the “core values” of more than 1,300 Albertans
suggests wildlife habitat, greenhouse gas emissions and water usage are the
top concerns related to oilsands development. They trumped royalties, land
use and economic impacts.

“We see the environmental concerns directing the pace of the oilsands rather
than economic ones,” Das said. “There’s a huge appetite to address the
environmental issues and that is more important than some of the other
variables that come into play.”

The poll also shows Albertans don’t trust the current leaders of the major
political parties to responsibly manage the province’s growth.

Asked who is best suited for the challenge, 43 per cent of those surveyed
selected “none of the above.”

Premier Ed Stelmach garnered 33 per cent of their support, while Liberal
Leader Kevin Taft managed 11 per cent and NDP Leader Brian Mason received
six per cent.

“No one leader or political party has a lock on the confidence of Albertans
to do the job,” said Das.

Even Green Party Leader George Read got low marks (five per cent) despite
his party’s environmentally based platform. Paul Hinman, who heads the
merged Wildrose Alliance party, got two per cent.

Environmentalists say the public appears to be ahead of politicians on the
issue.

“It’s a very clear message to all the parties that environment is a
top-of-mind concern for all Albertans, and they better take it seriously
going into the next election,” said Pembina Institute executive director
Marlo Raynolds.

“I think what will be interesting to watch is how does that concern
translate in an election? Are Albertans ready to guide their vote on the
environmental performances they expect to see on the platforms of the
different parties?”

He said Stelmach’s climate change announcement Thursday is vague and is
likely to fall far short of what Albertans expect from their government on
the environmental front.

The Cambridge Strategies poll suggests Albertans are divided on how well
Stelmach’s Conservative government is managing the oilsands, with 40 per
cent saying it is doing a good job and 41 per cent saying the opposite.

Albertans also appeared to be split on the government’s performance in
managing growth, with 43 per cent saying it is doing a good job and 41 per
cent disagreeing with that assessment.

Das said the future of oilsands development is potentially a ballot
question, and with an election looming Albertans can expect more volatility
and uncertainty in politics and policy direction.

He said the online poll of 1,303 Albertans, conducted from Oct. 17 to 22, is
accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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