At a recent sit-down at the University of Ottawa, TV personality and science advocate Bill Nye confronted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his approval of the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
"I've been to Fort McMurray, Alberta. It really is an amazing place in the most troubling way," the Science Guy said, likely referring to the area's notorious tar sands. "But this pipeline ... tell us about the Kinder Morgan pipeline."
"Nevertheless, there's this enormous fossil fuel industry," Nye said. "Tell us about that."
"First of all, I agree," Trudeau replied. "There is tremendous potential for renewable energy ... However, we can't get there tomorrow, right? We're not going to get there tomorrow. So, we are going to have a transition phase while we develop alternatives to fossil fuels."
Trudeau touted that his government is working on other environmental initiatives such as establishing a national price on carbon and a $1.5 billion ocean protection plan. All those initiatives, he said, are "pieces that go together."
However, he ultimately defended his approval of the pipeline expansion, insisting "the environment and the economy need to go together."
"We have to make responsible choices that's going to move us in the direction of gettin off our massive dependence on fossil fuels and do more renewables," Trudeau said.
"The way to do it is to move forward responsibly in both protecting our environment and protecting the jobs and the economy that still is reliant on fossil fuels and will be for another number of years."
In November 2016, Trudeau approved a $7.4 billion expansion of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline that would increase the transport of Alberta tar sands oil from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.
Pipeline opponents and environmentalists have denounced Trudeau's action, especially when the Liberal leader's environmental platform states, "We need to take real action on climate change." Greenpeace Canada estimates the Kinder Morgan pipeline will unlock the climate impacts of 2,700,000 million cars every year.
After the chat, Nye told reporters that he accepted Trudeau's defense of the pipeline.
"It's your country, Canada's going to do what it's going to do," Nye said. "And the prime minister had a very well-thought-out answer that it's for economic development in the short term."
However, he pointed out: "The pipeline is, in the big picture, bad."