Osage Nation Chief: you can’t live among wind turbines

“Devouring our history and culture” Chief says during prayer ceremony

Tulsa World, July 13, 2015

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By MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer | Posted

BURBANK — With a dense fog draped across the Osage prairie, the wind turbines first came into view as twinkling red stars low on the horizon — two or three to begin with, then dozens, hovering above the grassy hilltops.

 The giant blades, each as big as an airliner’s wing, can usually be seen for miles. But as several citizens of the Osage Nation drove toward them from all across the county, some coming from as far away as Tulsa, only the blinking lights on top were visible Friday morning until the turbines suddenly leaped out of the fog at close range.

Joe Conner called them “wind monsters.”

“They’re eating up the landscape,” he said. “They’re devouring our history and culture.”

The fog lifted and dawn began to spread an orange glow across the eastern sky as Conner stretched a blue tarp on the ground at a public right-of-way just north of U.S. 60 and Oklahoma 18, in the middle of the Osage Wind development, 15 minutes west of Pawhuska. At precisely 6:09 a.m., with the first tiny arc of the sun peeking above the horizon, a traditional prayer leader stepped onto the tarp and raised an eagle feather to bless the crowd. Two dozen Osage Indians, including the chief and at least three members of the tribal Congress, wrapped colorfully striped blankets around their shoulders and bowed their heads.

“We are pitiful and humble people, asking for your help,” Cameron Pratt prayed out loud, first in the Osage language and then in English, his voice nearly drowned out by the constant drone of the whirling blades. They sound like an aircraft passing high overhead, except the aircraft never flies away.

“Things keep being taken away from us,” Pratt continued to pray. “And it’s always under the guise of improvements, and yet it always seems to be at our expense.”

The tribe has been fighting wind development in Osage County for years, and by now the legal arguments are well known. Turbine construction requires digging a large pit for the foundation, disturbing limestone and other rocks that the tribe claims as part of its mineral estate. And the U.S. government, on behalf of the tribe, has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the developers should have obtained a minerals permit — a permit the tribe likely would have denied.

But Conner and Pratt didn’t organize this sunrise prayer service to rehash the court case, which is still pending. Conner wanted to emphasize another aspect of the tribe’s grievance against the developers — what he calls “the spiritual and cultural side” of the argument.

Driven away from their ancestral homelands in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, the Osage bought this land — 1.4 million acres, or nearly twice the size of Rhode Island — and moved here in the early 1870s, some say after a tribal holy man had a vision of the rolling hills and sweeping plains.

“We are a praying people and put our faith in God,” said tribal Congressman John Maker. “God gave us this land and it was beautiful when we came here.”

The tribe owned the Osage Reservation collectively and resisted pressure to divide the land among individual citizens, even delaying Oklahoma statehood until Congress forced allotment in 1906. But the mineral estate remained collective property — a compromise that proved to be fortuitous after the oil boom.

Roughly 14,000 active wells still dot the landscape. And no, they aren’t exactly beautiful, said Principal Chief Geoffrey StandingBear. And yes, they have undoubtedly caused some pollution. But nothing compares to the “scenic blight” of nearly 100 gigantic wind turbines towering above the prairie, he said.

Developers say they hope to add as many as 68 more turbines on nearby properties, some of which would be visible from the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. And the tribe suspects that developers are negotiating additional leases across a wider patch of the county. StandingBear not only wants to stop more turbines from being built, but also hopes to see the existing ones taken down.

“This is driving out all our families; you can’t live among these things,” the chief said. “It’s a harsh form of pollution, and it should go away.”

Enel Green Power, an Italian company that owns Osage Wind, did not comment on the prayer service. It has denied the need for a minerals permit from the tribe and argues that it met all legal requirements before building the first turbines last November.

 

Study says wind farms can harm health

Photo

“Further research urgently needed”

Consumer Affairs, July 13,m 2015

by James R. Hood

[Pictured: Activation of auditory cortex during stimulation of the ear by low-frequency sound and infrasound Credit: Max Planck Institut für Bildungsforschung]

Some people think high-voltage power lines cause cancer while others are convinced that wi-fi is a threat to human health. Others worry about cell phones. And don’t even think mention non-stick skillets.

But wind farms? Oh sure, the giant blades may slice through a buzzard now and then but how would a wind farm be harmful to humans?

Well, a new German study suggests that the very-low-frequency sounds generated by the windmill’s rotor blades and windflow may be detected by the human brain, contradicting the assumption that the sounds are below the threshold of human hearing.

Researchers at the European Meteorology Research Program (EMRP) found that humans can hear sounds lower than previously thought. Also, the mechanisms of sound perception are much more complex than expected, the researchers said.

People living in the vicinity of wind farms have reported experiencing sleep disturbances, a decline in performance, and other negative effects, apparently from the “infrasound” generated by the turbines. Infrasound refers to very low sounds, around 16 hertz, generally thought to be below the limit of hearing.

Earlier studies have come to similar conclusions. In 2014, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that the low-frequency sounds could cause panic, sleep disturbances, stress and elevated blood pressure.

The wind power industry dismisses such complaints, saying that the sounds generated by the wind farms are too low and too faint to be detected by humans. But Christian Koch, the lead researcher in a study conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, says it’s not that clear-cut.

“Neither scaremongering nor refuting everything is of any help in this situation. Instead, we must try to find out more about how sounds in the limit range of hearing are perceived,” Koch said.

Koch and his team used brain imaging to tell when test subjects were aware of very low sounds and found that humans hear sounds as low as 8 hertz — a full octave lower than previously thought. The test subjects confirmed that they heard something and MRI-type devices showed a reaction in parts of the brain that play a role in emotion.

“This means that a human being has a rather diffuse perception, saying that something is there and that this might involve danger,” Koch said. “But we’re actually at the very beginning of our investigations. Further research is urgently needed.”

Australia to cancel all subsidies for wind power

Tony Abbott Wind Farms

Breitbart News, July 12, 2015

Australia has slammed the door shut on any new government-funded investment in renewable energy schemes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott extends his “war on wind power”.

In doing so Mr Abbott has sent a clear message to the mendicant green renewable energy sector that there will be no more cheap state-supplied financing for its projects.

Fairfax Media reports Mr Abbott’s conservative coalition government has ordered the taxpayer-funded $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to immediately cease any new investments in wind power projects. Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann issued the so-called green bank with a directive to change its investment strategy.

The funding ban is just the latest salvo in the government’s attacks on the renewable energy sector which also includes small-scale solar projects.

Mr Hockey started the Abbott government’s campaign against wind farms in 2014 when he told Sydney radio host Alan Jones he found the massive turbines “utterly offensive”. Prime Minister Abbott reignited the debate last month, telling Jones he finds turbines “visually awful”. He said he wanted to reduce the growth rate of the sector as much as possible.

The decision will please anti-wind government members but wind industry insiders, who declined to comment on the record, told Fairfax Media the decision is a “big blow”. One said that while it will not sink the industry altogether, it will make things harder.

Head of Australia at Bloomberg New Energy Finance Kobad Bhavnagri​ said the decision would have a “significant” impact on the industry.

As Breitbart London reported last month, the UK-born Mr Abbott (his family moved to Australia from London when he was aged three), who once famously dismissed the argument behind anthropogenic climate change as “absolute crap”, has never carried his disdain for wind farms lightly.

In June he told a radio interviewer a cycling trip to an island off the Western Australia state capital Perth had rammed home his personal dislike for wind generators. He added that he wants “fewer” wind farms in Australia and is keen for an inquiry into their health impacts.

“When I’ve been up close to these things, not only are they visually awful, but they make a lot of noise,” Mr Abbott told Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones. “Up close, they’re ugly, they’re noisy and they may have all sorts of other impacts.

“It’s right and proper that we’re having an inquiry into the health impacts of these things.”

Wind power is not the only part of the Australian alternative energy industry to be targeted by Mr Abbott.

The Guardian Australia reports that the new directive banning the CEFC from investing in existing wind technology will also apply to small-scale solar projects.

The truth about saving electricity

Ottawa energy economist Robert Lyman has responded to an advertising campaign in that city about how conservation efforts are paying off for consumers.

Not so, he says. “How about some truth in advertising?

” When the Ontario government advertises about “saving energy,” it is not talking about saving consumers money. It is talking about— in theory— reducing the costs associated with generating and transporting electrical energy to consumers. Reducing demand usually refers to two things: reducing the overall average use of electricity and switching the use of electricity from the peak periods of day and season to other times. Reducing the average use over time reduces the amount of generating capacity of all kinds that the electrical utilities need to build. Reducing the peak uses can, in theory, cut the amount of peaking capacity (electrical energy generation capacity that stands idle to be used when needed) that has to be built.

So, in theory, Ontario wants us all to use less electricity so that its utilities won’t have to build more expensive generating plants and transmissions lines. This is where things start to get bizarre…”

Read the full article courtesy Ottawa Wind Concerns, here.

Ontario’s environmental hypocrisy

Nature is a curiosity best seen at the zoo in the Liberals' Ontario
Nature is a curiosity best seen at the zoo in the Liberals’ Ontario

Wind “farms” will kill wildlife and scar the natural environment, but the government teaches children to protect it

Wellington Times, July 10, 2015

With school children arrayed at his feet, Ontario’s environment minister, Glenn Murray, announced last week his government was giving $1 million to an organization dedicated to educating children aged five to 11, about how to help protect animals and their habitats.

His advice to the children assembled at the ROM for the press event was predictable, if somewhat ham-handed: Go home and tell your parents and grandparents to use less carbon.

Murray isn’t the first to employ children to market his wares. Cereal makers, burger sellers and dictators have all used children to influence decision-makers. The Ontario government isn’t above using an effective marketing technique to sell its message, even when the moral and ethical turf is a bit squishy.

Earth Rangers formed in 2001. The funding from the province will help the organization expand its school assembly program and develop a new Grade 6 class visit program.

For Murray, this is an investment in the minds of young and impressionable children— a recruiting drive for foot soldiers in his campaign to restore his government’s credibility on environmental matters.

“The most thoughtful discussions that move people to change are discussions between children and their parents, and children and each other,” noted Murray to the children before him.

Eventually, however, Murray will be challenged to square his government’s words with its actions. Rather than educate children about nature, he risks teaching them about the nature of government.

Earth Rangers is indeed a well-respected education and conservancy organization— very much in tune with the sensitivity of the animals and plants around us, particularly those species that are struggling to survive.

Among these is the Blanding’s turtle. Last year, Earth Rangers launched a project and mission to enhance awareness of the plight of this endangered turtle species. Its Protect the Blanding’s Turtle program brought schoolchildren from across the province to the Toronto Zoo to incubate dozens of Blanding’s turtle eggs.

“Together we will watch as our turtles grow in our nursery and, as Earth Rangers, we are working together to respect wetlands and honour the ancient creatures that live there,” writes researcher Bob Johnson on the Blanding’s turtle page of the Earth Rangers website.

Later the project released 21 turtles into the creeks and marsh in the Rouge Valley.

For those who have invested time, money and heartache in protecting the Blanding’s turtle in Prince Edward County, the irony is particularly cruel.

From one desk the Ministry of Environment is paving the way for the destruction of the Blanding’s turtle. From another it is funding education programs urging our children to protect it.

Since the advent of the Green Energy Act, the province has methodically removed protections and regulatory hurdles that safeguard the environment and species at risk like the Blanding’s turtle. They have lowered, and in some cases eliminated, regulatory protections in order to streamline the path enabling wind and solar developers to transform pastoral lands into vast industrial tracts of electricity production. Almost all of which is sold at discount prices to Michigan and New York.

In Prince Edward County, the province granted a developer a permit to “harm, harass and kill” the Blanding’s turtle. Let us ponder this a moment: A provincial permit granting a developer the right to kill an endangered species. Let that sink in.

Of course, the developer has promised it will take steps to minimize the destruction of turtles and its habitat ,and that its actions will result in a benefit to the species. But a provincially appointed review panel didn’t believe it. The found the developer’s plans to protect the species simply weren’t credible. After 40 days of hearings, the review panel concluded the project would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the endangered species.

How did the Ministry of Environment respond? It fought back with all its legal might, striving to reverse the decision and repudiate its environmental guardians.

So twisted has this ministry become, it is seeking to simultaneously save and destroy the Blanding’s turtle.

Meanwhile, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have waged an expensive, multi-year battle to prevent the destruction of the turtle’s vulnerable habitat at Ostrander Point. Their efforts and successes have been funded by donations and from their own pockets. No big Ontario cheques have come their way.

With fresh new funding, Earth Rangers will fan out to schools across Ontario this fall urging children to protect the Blanding’s turtle, the bobolink and other endangered species. Meanwhile, PECFN will be back in a courtroom trying to stop the same government and its agents from bulldozing the turtle’s dwindling habitat.

Listen up children, there is a lesson in this.

rick@wellingtontimes.ca

The best way to protect Blanding’s turtle is to give generously to the Save Ostrander Point project at saveostranderpoint.org.

Ontario’s job killer: high electricity rates

Ontario's propaganda campaign on green energy is costing jobs
Ontario’s propaganda campaign on green energy is costing jobs

Financial Post Comment, July 10, 2015

In today’s Financial Post is a comment piece by economic professor Ross McKitrick and energy analyst Tom Adams called “Ontario’s job killer.”

“Perhaps Ontario’s business leaders are finally realizing that moving their deck chairs to the high side of a sinking ship is not a long-term solution,” Adams and McKitrick write.

“With the Ontario Liberal government this week preening on the global climate stage at the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, doubling down on its costly green agenda, the business community needs to face up to the bigger picture.”

The two authors present more data on the real sources of air pollution (transportation, building and industry) and comment that the “coal death toll claim is absurd but it illustrates the government’s warped propaganda campaign that derailed sensible power planning discussions.”

Read the entire article here.

WCO president chastises OFA president for “archaic” isolationist view on wind power

AgriNews - Etcetera Publications (Chesterville) Inc.

Eastern Agri-Business News, July 2015

FINCH — Wind Concerns Ontario President Jane Wilson has penned an open letter to OFA President Don McCabe chastising his “isolationism” during a public presentation on wind energy in Finch, May 6. The activist has also requested a meeting with the OFA board to discuss her organization’s concerns.

While praising the OFA president for repeatedly advising prospective wind farm participants to consult with a lawyer, Wilson challenges McCabe on a number of points made at the session, including his assertion that Ontario has no surplus of power and his suggestion that farmers make arrangements to draw power directly from the wind turbines on their land — in order to save on rising hydro rates OFA itself has complained about. (On the last point, Wilson says that sort of that “net metering” is not permitted on projects built under the Feed-In Tariff program.) She also counters some of his advice on thoughts related to turbine noise, community input, and farmers not happy with turbine contracts on their land.

She also expresses disappointment at the “overarching theme” of the OFA president’s remarks, “that if people are going to sign a lease for a wind turbine project they should make certain that they get concessions from the power developer that benefit them. There was not a single mention in your remarks of the need for responsible consideration of other members of one’s community, including fellow farm operators, and neighbours.”

She alleges of his comments “a very narrow view that demonstrates no balance and instead indicates an archaic, I can do whatever I want on my land’ view.” Contemporary and socially responsible farm operators don’t share that viewpoint, she also writes.

“Our concern with this isolationist view of farm ownership is that it will further divide Ontario’s rural and small-town communities.”

The Canadian Wind Energy Assocation’s Director of Technical and Utility Affairs, Tom Levy, also spoke at the public event organized by the Finch Lions Club in the Township of North Stormont. Although officially not a willing host to wind projects, the township is the proposed site for two similarly sized developments currently competing for the next allotment of renewable energy contracts.

 

Editor’s note: the OFA has not responded to Wind Concerns Ontario’s offer to meet.

Wind power developers using ‘cosmic math’ says engineer

"You tell 'em Dave, it's all good." EDF exec is former McGuinty staffer
“You tell ’em Dave, it’s all good.” EDF exec is former McGuinty staffer

Eastern Ontario Open Houses for power developers attempt to win over residents

Ottawa Wind Concerns has posted a story from a recent edition of Ontario Farmer, reporting on Open Houses held by wind power developers as the multi-national corporations proceed on the “green light” for Eastern Ontario, for the 2015 round of wind power contracts.

But, based on comments made to the reporter, many residents of Prescott-Russell and Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry are not fooled by the maps and save-the-world chat. “This is going to end badly,” said a farmer who refused to sign a lease for wind turbines.

Note that the executive for power developer EDF is David Thornton, former staffer in Dalton McGuinty’s office, and who also served as a senior policy advisor on renewable energy. (Guess he figured out where the rainbow ends…)

Read the story at Ottawa Wind Concerns, here.

 

 

Ontario’s competitive electricity rates…and other fairy tales?

Rate increases double, triple the rate of inflation, says Parker Gallant

On October 31, 2014 the Toronto Star ran an article on electricity rates scheduled to rise the next day (November 1, 2014) and included this comment:  “Jennifer Beaudry, a spokeswoman Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, said Ontario’s electricity rates are competitive with similar jurisdictions in North America.”

Just six months before, Energy Minister Chiarelli announced  “We’re lowering the threshold so smaller size businesses…will be able to participate in the system when they couldn’t before,” the minister said at Giant Tiger headquarters in Ottawa Thursday. “That will keep our manufacturing sector more competitive.”

The latter announcement came within days of another press release about the price of electricity rates going up.

It should be made clear that the two articles referenced the “commodity” cost only of electricity and didn’t include delivery, regulatory and debt retirement charges.

It would appear the accompanying chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) contains information that easily dispels the comments from the Ministry spokeswoman and Minister Chiarelli.   This chart shows the total cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) in each of the 50 US States and the District of Columbia as of April 2014 and April 2015 to the end user; in four categories including, “Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Transportation”.

The chart at the end of each state line shows the price (average) of all sectors.  A comparison to Ontario’s “commodity” costs discloses: eight states deliver electricity (all-in) at average prices below Ontario’s “Off-peak” rate of 8 cents per kilowatt hour, 31 states deliver it at less than Ontario’s “Mid-peak” rate and six states deliver it at less than Ontario’s “On-peak” rate.  Only six states have higher (all-in) prices than Ontario’s “On-peak” rate.  Twenty-two  U.S. states experienced a reduction in their rates compared to April 2014 and two of those, New York and Michigan, benefit from Ontario’s surplus exports. Exports will likely cost Ontario ratepayers $2 billion in the current year.

It would be nice—nay, delightful— if Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) were as transparent as the US EIA … but don’t hold your breath!

In order to calculate the “all-in” average cost to Ontario ratepayers (collectively and individually by local distribution company (LDC) one must visit the Ontario Energy Board’s (OEB) Yearbook of Distributors, which is updated once a year (usually late August) with the prior year’s information.  Information currently available is therefore for the year-end December 31, 2013.

Having a look at Ontario’s position as of the latter date, the average delivered cost of a kilowatt hour discloses the price (before HST and the OCEB) was 12.65 cents/kWh based on total revenue divided by kWh purchased.   If you remove the dollars and kWh for Hydro One the price drops to 11.97 cents/kWh.  If one goes through the same exercise in the first posted “Yearbook” summary for 2005, the all-in price was 9.19 cents/kWh—that means an increase of 30.3% over eight years, or more than double the inflation rate.

If you go through the same exercise for Hydro One their “all-in” delivered price was 10.39 cents/kWh in 2005 and for 2013 was15.26 cents/kWh. That’s an increase of 4.87 cents/kWh or a 46.9% increase in eight years—more than triple the inflation rate.

Again, if transparency was a requirement of Hydro One under the Liberal regime, one would expect the annual report for 2014 allowed for disclosure of the “all-in” delivered cost. But, it includes Hydro One Brampton so it is not possible to determine the 2014 costs of a delivered kWh from information in their annual report!  A rough estimate places “all-in” costs at about 17 cents/kWh, well above all but three of the U.S. states.

Just to make matters worse we now hear that the Wynne-led Liberal government has given “Hydro One workers a fat new contract that includes a 3% pay raise, a signing bonus worth 3% of their salary and stock in the company worth 2.7% of their salary every year for 12 years.” That lucrative settlement in the current environment will mean Hydro One will be knocking on the door of the OEB seeking an increase to cover the wage settlement, and Hydro One’s rates will continue to climb, whether public or privately owned!

Ontario’s electricity rates are now competitive with Alaska, Hawaii, Connecticut and Rhode Island, none of which are contiguous but hey! We heard it from the Energy Minister’s spokeswoman and Bob Chiarelli himself that Ontario’s electricity rates are competitive!

©Parker Gallant,  July 8, 2015