The Nanos Number: Pipelines seen as safest to transport oil

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC News Network's Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: The majority of Canadians say pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil.

Consumption, self-sufficiency and access are the main themes in American energy politics right now.

"Americans think they're going to be energy self-sufficient," Nik Nanos of Nanos Research said.

Fracking — a term for shale fracturing that allows companies to extract oil and gas that was previously inaccessible in the United States — is key to that belief.

But how crude oil is moved across the country and even borders also dominates the discussions, and that's when Canada comes into play.

New Nanos online representative surveys of 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians conducted Dec. 19 and 20, 2012 reveal both Americans and Canadians believe pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil. There is no margin of error stated for the online survey.

Here are the results of the survey:

What's the safest way to move crude oil?

But the majority that pipelines are the safest way to move oil across the country hasn't stopped protesters from trying to block the building of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipelines from Alberta to Texas and also Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline to the B.C. coast.

A series of decisions around the Keystone XL pipeline are expected within the next few months, including whether or not U.S. President Barack Obama believes the pipeline is in the country's national interest.

Obama rejected the pipeline's original route last January; TransCanada has resubmitted a new route to go around the environmental sensitive underground aquifers in Nebraska, one of the main reasons for protests against the pipeline.

But Nanos warns that this isn't going to be an easy decision for the president.

"Energy is a key file for him. Environmentalists and the environmental movement is a key central element of the winning Obama coalition. So he has to try chart a path where he keeps the coalition together, but then makes those hard-nosed decisions in terms of the energy needs of the American economy," Nanos said.

There are challenges ahead for the Canadian government as well.

"They have to try and manage that environmental impact," Nanos said, while the opposition should try to "turn up the heat on the pipeline debate, get it in the news."

When Canada is in the news in the United States "many times it's not good for Canada because there's focus on Canadian issues and it gets the ire of the Americans," Nanos added.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

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