Oil Sands, Pipelines and Fracking: Exploring Citizen Acceptance of Unconventional Fossil Fuels in Canada

Because the transportation sector is still 95% powered by fossil fuels, it will be strongly affected by the development of unconventional fossil fuel resources. The authors use a nationally representative survey sample of the Canadian population (n=1,407) to examine citizen acceptance of five prominent unconventional fossil fuel developments: oil sands, Northern Gateway Pipeline, TransMountain Pipeline, Energy East Pipeline, and hydraulic fracturing. Across Canada, oil sands and pipeline developments tend to have less acceptance than renewable energy and conventional oil, but more acceptance than nuclear and coal. Among Canadian regions, acceptance for unconventional fossil fuel developments is consistently higher among respondents in Alberta (the province where most fossil fuel development occurs), where respondents are more likely to perceive economic benefits and less likely to perceive environmental and social costs. Opposition tends to be higher among respondents in British Columbia and Quebec. Acceptance levels are similar for oil sands and oil sands pipelines within all Canadian regions, while hydraulic fracturing has significantly lower acceptance in each region. Regression analyses indicate consistent patterns of acceptance across the full sample: opposition is predicted by higher biospheric and altruistic values and environmental concern, and support is predicted by higher egoistic and traditional values and higher trust in oil and gas companies. Results provide insights to policymakers and stakeholders, including the strong regional differences in development acceptance, and how citizens perceive oil sands related projects differently from hydraulic fracturing projects.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ADC70 Standing Committee on Transportation Energy.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Brunner, Todd
    • Axsen, Jonn
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 21p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01698009
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-00457
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:44AM