POLITICS
03/06/2018 13:24 EST | Updated 03/07/2018 10:00 EST

Bill Nye Challenges Justin Trudeau To Justify Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion

Inertia is a property of government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in an armchair discussion with Bill Nye at the University of Ottawa on March 6, 2018.
Justin Tang/CANADIAN PRESS
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in an armchair discussion with Bill Nye at the University of Ottawa on March 6, 2018.

There's more to Bill Nye than bow ties and beakers.

The Science Guy didn't let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau off the hook on Tuesday at a discussion on innovation at the University of Ottawa.

Nye asked Trudeau to explain to environmental scientists why his government approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

"I've been to Fort McMurray, Alberta, and it is an amazing place in the most troubling way," Nye said. "But this pipeline ... tell us about the Kinder Morgan pipeline."

Nye said that a group of U.S. civil engineers has calculated that Canada could be completely powered by renewable energy, if we "just decide to do it."

I've been to Fort McMurray, Alberta, and it is an amazing place in the most troubling way.Bill Nye

The engineers, whose research is available at thesolutionsproject.org, project that Canada could transition off fossil fuels by 2050. They say that would save $110.1 billion on health care costs every year and prevent 9,884 annual air pollution deaths.

"Nevertheless, there's this enormous fossil fuel industry," Nye said. "Tell us about that."

THE SOLUTIONS PROJECT
The engineers behind The Solutions Project estimate that Canada could transition off fossil fuels by 2050.

"First of all, I agree," Trudeau said. "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 highlighted his government's national carbon pricing plan and $1.5-billion ocean protection plan as initiatives that will help the environment.

"There are pieces that all go together," he said.

Pipelines are a safer option than transporting oil by train or truck, he noted.

Justin Tang/CANADIAN PRESS
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the University of Ottawa on March 6, 2018.

The prime minister approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion line that will run through suburban Vancouver in November. Canada will produce at least 23 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gases every year once Trans Mountain and Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline are expanded.

The Trans Mountain expansion has been a lightning rod for criticism and sparked an ongoing dispute between the NDP governments in Alberta and B.C.

With a file from the Canadian Press

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