Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health Nissenbaum MA, Aramini JJ, Hanning CD – Noise Health

A new study study on sleep disruption due to Industrial wind turbines, by Michael A Nissenbaum (Northern Maine Medical Center), Jeffery J Aramini (Intelligent Health Solutions – Guelph), and Christopher D Hanning (University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust)

Abstract
Industrial wind turbines (IWTs) are a new source of noise in previously quiet rural environments. Environmental noise is a public health concern, of which sleep disruption is a major factor. To compare sleep and general health outcomes between participants living close to IWTs and those living further away from them, participants living between 375 and 1400 m (n = 38) and 3.3 and 6.6 km (n = 41) from IWTs were enrolled in a stratified cross-sectional study involving two rural sites. Validated questionnaires were used to collect information on sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index – PSQI), daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Score – ESS), and general health (SF36v2), together with psychiatric disorders, attitude, and demographics. Descriptive and multivariate analyses were performed to investigate the effect of the main exposure variable of interest (distance to the nearest IWT) on various health outcome measures. Participants living within 1.4 km of an IWT had worse sleep, were sleepier during the day, and had worse SF36 Mental Component Scores compared to those living further than 1.4 km away. Significant dose-response relationships between PSQI, ESS, SF36 Mental Component Score, and log-distance to the nearest IWT were identified after controlling for gender, age, and household clustering. The adverse event reports of sleep disturbance and ill health by those living close to IWTs are supported.

Continue Reading at Noise and Health

Bats in the Belfry, Part lV: Environmental Review Tribunal—Industrializing Rural Ontario

This is the fourth and final in the series that examines some of the members on the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT). As noted in earlier articles the members of the ERT should be unbiased in order to qualify for their positions. We have previously examined two of the twelve members of the Tribunal who may have been appointed to the ERT with a bias and this article will look at two others. Those two are Maureen Carter-Whitney and Marcia Valiante who both were previously employed by the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy or CIELAP. According to an announcement on their website here CIELAP and CELA (Canadian Environmental Law Association) have merged with the Board Chairman blaming it partly on “a changed funding landscape”. The most recent annual report posted on the CIELAP site for the year ended June 30, 2010 showed meager income of only $ 185K with a big chunk coming from Friends of the Greenbelt, a McGuinty creation that has doled out almost $25 million over the past few years. With a staff of 6 at CIELAP the $185K wouldn’t go very far. As noted in a prior article CELA and CIELAP used to share premises so this simply puts them back together.

CIELAP strongly endorsed the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) but they did note and support the rights of objectors to appeal licences that the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) might issue on environmental grounds, with this caveat:

“However, anyone who applies for a hearing relating to an approval for a renewable energy project would be required to show that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life, human health or safety, or the natural environment. This is a very difficult test that may be nearly impossible to meet.”

CIELAP obviously believed that the government would take over local democratic rights and then abide by a commitment to honour the effects on the community through appeals as long as the appellant had strong evidence. Getting two of CIELAP’s former employees on the ERT means that those particular individuals may carry that bias into any of those appeals despite the need to have an “Aptitude for impartial adjudication” requirement that the Public Appointments Secretariat emphasizes.

One year after submission of their endorsement of the GEA, Maureen Carter-Whitney of CIELAP together with Ecojustice and CELA submitted a brief to the MoE expressing concern about how they were streamlining the approval process for “Certificates of Approval”. Their brief noted their concern by including issues that they felt raised “serious concerns about environmental equity considerations regarding the siting and operation of industrial facilities in the province.” In this writer’s opinion the endorsement of the GEA by CIELAP and the others failed to recognize the consequences of what would happen to rural Ontario though the licencing of those “industrial” wind turbine developments, or perhaps CIELAP and the others simply didn’t consider 400/500 foot industrial wind turbines as “industrial facilities”. Much like Ontario’s Auditor General noted in respect to the economics of the GEA; that no cost/benefit analysis occurred; it would appear that CIELAP and the other supporters from the environmental non-government organizations (ENGO) also failed to consider a cost/benefit analysis in respect to the environment.

The other former CIELAP employee, Marcia Valiante is now a Professor at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law where she teaches courses in Canadian Environmental Law.  Ms Valiante left CIELAP many years ago but clings to her past as evident by a review of her biography and list of publications on the University of Windsor site.  Her bio includes a reference to how her research and publications include a range of issues on “environmental law” including “citizen access to environmental decision-making.

Ms. Valiante’s list of publications includes collaborative efforts with Gerry DeMarco (covered in Part III of this series), to produce “Opening the Door for Common Law Environmental Protection in Canada”, Bruce Lourie (see earlier articles) and Mark Winfield, (current Associate Professor at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, former Program Director of Pembina and former Director of Research for CIELAP) with others to produce a book titled, “Canadian Environmental Policy and Politics”.  The writer’s opinion, based on Ms. Valiante’s position and her publications, make her an ideal candidate to interpret Ontario’s legislation dealing with matters associated with the environment but her past affiliations with avid proponents of “renewable energy” and the Green Energy Act make one wonder if some of those prior associations allows her to be unbiased in any of the rulings she is called on to adjudicate in respect to the ERT hearings.

Reviewing some of the ERT hearings it is noteworthy that dismissals occur in every appeal submitted in respect to industrial wind development. The dismissals are based on the rule of law and the regulations that apply. Those rules are applied rigorously by the likes of Muldoon, DeMarco, Carter-Whitney and Valiante.

To cite one example an appeal by a group of 21 individuals (appellants) in Chatham Kent against South Kent Wind LP was filed June 29, 2012 and the ERT served notice to those individuals that they must present certain information to the Tribunal by July 3, 2012. Specifically that information was:

“Clarification as to whether each person listed in the notice of appeal was appealing the REA, and contact information for each Appellant pursuant to Rule 29.(a), which requires the Appellant‟s name, address, telephone number, facsimile number and email address and the name and contact information of anyone representing the Appellant; 

Pursuant to Rule 29.(d), a description of how engaging in the renewable energy project in accordance with the REA will cause:
Serious harm to human health, or
Serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment;
 

Pursuant to Rule 29 (e), a statement of the issues and material facts relevant to the subject matter of the appeal that the Appellant intends to present at the main hearing;
Pursuant to Rule 29 (g), an indication of whether the Appellant will seek a stay of the REA; and
An affidavit of service confirming that the notice of appeal was served on the MOE and the Approval Holder pursuant to Rule 30.”

Needless to say the appellants were unable to present the information in the 3 to 4 days allotted but the Tribunal did grant them additional time extending the date to July 16, 2012 and more information was submitted.  In the end though the appeal was dismissed because the ERT Member, Maureen Carter-Whitney, ruled that the information did not satisfy the rules. Appeal dismissed!

The Chatham Kent group were fighting the joint venture, Pattern Energy/Samsung 230 MW (name plate capacity) that would see the erection of 124 industrial wind turbines with a height (including blades) of almost 500 feet. As a resident of Toronto I would note that we don’t have nearly that many buildings of that height in the city, yet here is Ms. Carter-Whitney dismissing the appeal after standing so adamantly behind the environmental aspects of “the siting and operation of industrial facilities in the province.” So the ERT simply bless this joint venture of two foreign owned companies who have come to Ontario, attracted by our subsidized prices, and industrialize rural Ontario because of the “rules”. Those two companies will earn revenue of about $76 million per year while promising to create 20 permanent jobs or $3.8 million per job per year.

The writer could cite many other examples but the foregoing makes the point that the GEA has made a mockery of Ontario’s democratic process and as noted in the above mentioned brief submitted by CIELAP, CELA and Ecojustion will cause “serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life, human health or safety, or the natural environment. This is a very difficult test that may be nearly impossible to meet.

The latter point has now become obvious and it is partly because the proponents of the above are now in the position to ensure that the “very difficult test that may be nearly impossible to meet.”, is impossible to meet.

It is time for Gord Miller, Ontario’s Environment Commissioner to recommend changes to the Acts governing the process of licencing industrial wind developments or there soon will be no bats in the belfry or anywhere in the province.

Parker Gallant,
October 20, 2012

The opinions expressed above are those of the writer.

McGuinty’s Folly: Messing with the Energy Sector

In the wake of Premier McGuinty’s announcement that he was resigning as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party the platitudes and the admonitory comments have flowed. Lost in the fray is the harm that his energy policies have cost both Ontarians and the rest of Canada.

An article out of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) confirms that the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on the feed-in tariff (FIT) program’s requirement, for Ontario content, looks set to become fact. That ruling, against Canada, will impact not only Ontario but all of Canada. If the ruling is against Canada by the WTO, Japan and the EU will no doubt seek fines and if levied these will be a burden on all taxpayers not just those in Ontario. What this means for the Ontario’s Liberal Party may be significant as the blame will clearly be laid at their feet. This is particularly true when related to the Samsung contract for 2500 MW of renewable energy which carries the caveat that they create jobs (1,300) and buy a percentage of Ontario manufactured product for their investments in the wind (2,000 MW) and solar (500 MW) projects.

The Liberals have been insistent that the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) has created 20,000 jobs (50,000 by December 31, 2012 promised) and brought tens of billions ($7 billion from Samsung alone) in investments into the province. Perhaps the rhetoric should have been toned down as any fines imposed by the WTO or NAFTA (see below) may reflect that rhetoric, whereas, in truth, the GEA has been anything but the wonderful job creating machine the Liberals touted.

Canada is also being challenged under NAFTA by none other then oil baron T. Boone Pickens who has launched a $775 million challenge under NAFTA rules. Mr. Picken’s MESA Power Group of Texas has claimed discrimination in the process of handing out those FIT contracts and there may well be something to that; as they were shut out of the process and blame it on, “the abuse of power and process, and undue political influence in the regulations of renewable power in Ontario,”. That political influence has become more evident recently based on the gas plant moves!

So, while the gas plant moves from Oakville and Mississauga to Bath and Lambton may have been the deciding factor in McGuinty stepping down, his energy legacy, pursued by previous Energy Ministers; Dwight Duncan, George Smitherman and Brad Duguid would likely have caused his demise in the not too distant future.

For decades to come Ontario households receiving their monthly electricity bills will cringe and automatically think of the McGuinty folly.

Parker Gallant,

October 16, 2012
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Bats in the Belfry, Part lIl: Are Environmental Review Tribunal Members Impartial?

This is the third in the series that examines the ERT (Environmental Review Tribunal) and in the process, a few of their current members.

One member of the ERT, Mr. Jerry DeMarco, was appointed in the summer of 2005 by MPP Laurel Broten, Minister of the Environment. At that time Mr. DeMarco appears to have been employedby the Sierra Legal Defence Fund. DeMarco’s short biography on the Public Appointments Secretariat (PAS) website indicates his employment with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund (SLDF–now Ecojustice) was from “1996-2004”. There appears to be a year missing in the time-line of Mr. DeMarco’s employment history. Is the bio posted on PAS wrong; as the September 2005 SLDF newsletter congratulated him on winning a “City of Toronto environmental award”? An error of that type seems strange considering it still exists 7 years after his appointment and reappointment after his first three year stint. Mr. DeMarco is listed on the PAS registry as both the Associate Chair of the ERT and as the alternate Executive Chair of the Environment and Lands Tribunal (ELTO).

Mr. DeMarco has fought deforestation, to save bird nests and co-authored a book (written for lawyers) with Paul Muldoon (see Part II), “Environmental Boards and Tribunals in Canada-A Practical Guide”. Also as Associate Chair of the ERT he was a conference speaker in Atlantic Canada where his lecture was on: “This Learning Network will allow ENGO leaders to explore some practical approaches and strategies for effective collaboration.” Now, I am no lawyer but, at first glance the foregoing appears to be a drift into a conflict situation. One wonders if Mr. DeMarco has ever lectured some of the poor appellants that appear before him at the ERT hearings on how to deal with tribunals? I also personally wonder how conflicted he must be when he rules on matters of harm; both to humans and to the killing of birds and bats by industrial wind turbines? In the past he was reputedly trying to save bird nests and now he is adjudicating on licences granted to kill the birds hatched in those nests, huh?


DeMarco’s prior employer, Ecojustice, is a registered charity that Ezra Levant of Sun News took a run at; pointing out; Ecojustice (with annual revenues of $5 million) is supported by foreign interests, challenge provincial and federal governments through the courts, and 17 of lawyers on their staff are listed as Federal lobbyists. Ecojustice are not registered lobbyists in Ontario, but, they do lobby both individually and jointlywith other groups including Environmental Defence (Rick Smith) and ForestEthics (an offshoot of Tides Canada) as well as CELA and Greenpeace whom they teamed up with quite recently. They asked the Federal Court to revoke the OPG licence to prevent them from preparing the site (Darlington) where proposed new nuclear reactors are to be built.

Ecojustice report a staff of 56 in their October 31, 2011 annual report and almost $3 million in compensation expenses. Makes one wonder how they got the “charity” status blessing from the CRA? Was it based on support for poor lawyers?

Ecojustice claim it is “a national charitable organization dedicated to defending Canadians’ right to a healthy environment.” and also claim they “are an independent organization and 100 percent of our funding is provided by our generous donors.”

On the latter point Ecojustice received grants from; Trillium Foundation-$102K, Friends of the Greenbelt-$173K (both Ontario taxpayer owned foundations) and received grants from the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO)-$473K over the past few years. NB: The latter obtains its funding from interest earned on lawyers “trust accounts” ($32.5 million in 2011) and pass 75% of it to “Legal Aid” which is “the provincial government agency that provides legal assistance to low-income Ontarians.” A similar organization, the Law Foundation of British Columbia in the last 3 years granted over $700K to Ecojustice. Also noted in Part II of this series, CELA got a big chunk of these Ontario Legal Aid funds which they used to support the ENGOs and not the “low-income Ontarians”. Environmental Defence also received grants from the LFO as has CELA on a direct basis rather then via Legal Aid.

Ecojustice also tap into their environmental friends at the Ivey Foundation-$550K over the past several years (Bruce Lourie is the CEO and President), and the Catherine Donnelly Foundation (David Love is a Board member [he is Executive Director of the publicly owned Conservation Foundation of Toronto] and sits on a Ivey Foundation Board) recently granted Ecojustice $1 million. Mr. Love was a past Board member (2004 & 2005) of Ecojustice. Ecojustice also have three different arms of the Tides Foundation listed as funders (Bruce Lourie is a member of the Tide’s “Energy Initiative Advisory Board”). The foregoing are all registered charities (except for the “Law Foundations” who are non-profit) who recycle tax dollar and their benefits to other charities. On the surface it certainly looks like those “generous donors” are friendly foundations, some taxpayer owned and others professionally related of whom two purport to use funds for “low income defendants” in the court systems of Ontario and B.C.

Often the irony of the words uttered by spokespeople for the ENGOs are just too damn obvious and this is borne out by a March 2004 Sierra Legal Defence Fund newsletterand the quote from Mr. DeMarco; “We continue to try to uphold the right of local governments to respond to calls for better health and environmental protection,” said Sierra Legal’s Managing Lawyer, Jerry DeMarco.”

The words contained in that dated newsletter by Mr. DeMarco are telling! When those words are examined in context to his current position of adjudicating for a government that has stomped on the rights of local governments under the Green Energy and Economy Act, its ability to “kill, harm and harass” birds, bats and humans, via Environment Ministry licences; it is hard to reconcile. Just what are Mr. DeMarco’s beliefs and does the pay he gets as a member of the ERT hold sway over his rulings and his moral suasion? Only he can answer that question!

The Bats are bouncing around the belfry with no hope of survival!

Parker Gallant,
October 13, 2012

Ontario’s Power Trip: How the Liberals drove electricity prices up 100%

This is a superb overview, from Parker Gallant, of the planning boondoggle in Ontario’s electricity system.
I use ‘boondoggle’ as an homage to another writer of another excellent article currently on the FP site:  Ontario’s Power Trip: The $733-million gas boondoggle — by Bruce Sharp

Ontario’s Power Trip: How the Liberals drove electricity prices up 100% — by Parker Gallant | FP Comment | Financial Post:

Back on March 31, 2004, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan uttered these words in the Ontario Legislature in response to a question on the Liberals energy policy;
“If we address energy policy in a responsible way, our economy will prosper and our families will have a stronger Ontario in which to grow. Our initiatives include aggressive conservation, new supply and accountability at our Crown corporations. Bill 15 will help us meet our goals on accountability and transparency.”
At that point in Ontario’s history the unemployment rate sat at 6.6% (February 2004) and today (September 2012) the unemployment rate is 7.9%.
It is important to take a look at how that “energy policy” has emerged over the last eight years to determine if the initiatives Minister Duncan talked about actually accomplished the goals he mentioned.

Read Parker Gallant’s entire article at the Financial Post:

Read Bruce Sharp’s article at the Financial Post