British Columbia

David Suzuki says economy cannot trump environment

Environmentalist David Suzuki says the federal approval of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline expansion projects is "just crazy."

'We've got to get off fossil fuels. We can’t be building multi-billion dollar pipelines ... It’s just crazy.'

David Suzuki told CBC's The Early Edition economic arguments for the pipeline expansion projects don't make sense. (Roshini Nair/CBC)

David Suzuki is not hiding his displeasure with the federal approval of the Trans Mountain and Line 3 pipeline expansion projects.

The renowned environmentalist told CBC's The Early Edition the economic arguments for the projects don't make sense.

"We always allow the economy to be the determining factor that limits or allows certain activities to go on. It makes no sense," he said.

"We've got to get off fossil fuels. We can't be building multi-billion dollar pipelines ... It's just crazy."

If constructed, the pipeline projects — which received federal approval Nov. 29 — would pump nearly a million additional barrels of oil from Alberta for export.

Suzuki compared the building of the pipelines to cod fishing in Newfoundland after the cod ran out, or the continued selling and exporting of asbestos despite evidence showing it was a dangerous material.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has argued the pipeline projects strike a balance between environmental concerns and economic concerns. Both she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say the construction of the pipelines will pay for a smoother transition into renewable energy as Canada won't be able to stop exporting oil overnight.

Suzuki doesn't buy that argument.

"For years, we've been subsidizing [the oil and gas industry] with billions of dollars. Let's claw that back and let's put that into the job creating areas of renewable energies, of bus lines, all of the things that need to be done. Let's invest in that direction."

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled David Suzuki on federal pipeline approvals