Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
While Ontario citizens fight the invasion of utility- or industrial-scale wind power projects throughout the province, using millions of after-tax dollars to protect the natural environment, wildlife, and their communities, the Wynne government engages in double-speak about environmental action.
At Ostrander Point, for example, it has been revealed in the ongoing legal proceedings (we are into stage 5 of a three-year fight) that a single person at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was responsible for granting the permit to the wind power developer to build, ignoring the Ministry’s own at-risk species expert who said the risk to the endangered Blandings turtle was too great.
Mere kilometers away, and in the same Blandings turtle habitat, the ministries objected to more testimony from staff at the MNR on the same subject, at the appeal of the White Pines power project.
Of the 77 wind turbines being constructed as part of the Niagara Region wind power project, 20 are in Blandings turtle habitat—this was not allowed to be discussed in the appeal of that project.
But Ontario’s policy on the endangered turtle is very clear: these creatures are in danger, and are to be protected. Here is a warning from the government’s own website on the turtle:
The public can help protect Blanding’s turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behavior toward turtles or their habitat.
Building a power plant and killing turtles in their habitat seems to be OK, though, if it’s for wind power.
The Ontario government needs to do an audit on its environmental policies … and STOP building power plants in fragile environments and wildlife habitat.
Report on the Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project
November 3, 2015
Henri Garand and Paula Peel, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC)
Day Two of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) was again devoted to procedural motions.
The hearing began with the ERT panel’s ruling on two motions discussed yesterday. Finding the scope overly broad, the Panel dismissed a motion for disclosure of all Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) documents related to species at risk from the White Pines project. However, it approved a second motion summonsing MNRF staff Joe Crowley and Kathleen Pitt and ordering them “to produce all documents in their possession or control related to the impacts of White Pines on species at risk in the vicinity of the project.”
APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie followed up the second ruling by presenting a motion for adjournment. He said there would be a need to assess Crowley’s and Pitt’s documents and perhaps to call more witnesses as a result of the evidence. Therefore, he proposed that the environmental case (or part of APPEC’s appeal) be adjourned till January and the health case rescheduled to precede it.
While Sylvia Davis, counsel for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), took no position on the motion, Patrick Duffy, counsel for approval holder/wind developer WPD, opposed it vigorously. He argued that the ERT had already been delayed and that the two MNRF witnesses could readily be accommodated in the current schedule. After an early and long lunch break the ERT panel dismissed the motion to adjourn without citing reasons.
The panel directed the Parties to deal with the issue of the order in which witnesses will appear. This was complicated by the uncertainties of when MNRF witnesses would provide documents, how long MOECC would take for document review, and how much time APPEC experts would need to examine them.
The ERT next focused on a motion from WPD’s counsel to strike the Witness Statements of APPEC witnesses Dr. Michael Hutchins of the American Bird Conservancy and Bill Evans, who testified at the Ostrander Point ERT. Duffy cited case law to support his contention that it was too late to bring in these witnesses.
In his submissions Eric Gillespie questioned how WPD could raise issues about proposed APPEC witnesses when it has not yet provided its own complete list, such as its hydrology expert. He also argued that Mr. Duffy is reviewing Witness Statements not thus far filed as evidence. Most important, the appellants had no notice of any kind that this motion was going to be brought today. He asked why WPD did not have to follow the same Tribunal rules as the appellants have been doing.
After taking a recess to consider the submissions the ERT panel clarified that all Parties had previously agreed to discuss Mr. Duffy’s motion today. Mr. Gillespie stated for the record that the motion to have been discussed was not the motion now being put forward, and that the appellants were hearing this motion for the first time. The ERT ordered that the motion, evidence and all authorities be provided in writing.
The second day concluded with a short discussion on schedules moving forward. On Wednesday the ERT will hear Opening Statements from the Parties and Presenters. These will conclude the hearings for this week.
The ERT will conduct a Site Visit on Monday, Nov. 9.
Again: citizens of Ontario taking legal action to protect the natural environment from … the Ministry of the Environment
November 3, 2015
Just days after explosive revelations at the Ostrander Point appeal, lawyer for the appellant in the appeal of the giant White Pines power project –also to be located on the South Shore of Prince Edward County–yesterday demanded more information from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources on how a permit came to be granted for a power project, in spite of the presence of the endangered Blandings turtle, and danger to other forms of wildlife.
Here is a report from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County:
Report on the ERT Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project – Nov. 2, 2015 By Henri Garand, APPEC
If Day One is any indication, the White Pines appeal will be as contentious as Ostrander Point’s.Even before opening statements the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) consisting of co-chairs Marcia Valiante and Hugh Wilkins, heard motions that may require an adjournment of the proceedings.
Eric Gillespie, counsel for APPEC, asked the ERT to summon two staff members of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and to order production of all materials related to White Pines permits approved under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).The request derived from similar disclosures and witnesses in the Ostrander Point appeal that have raised doubts about the integrity of the MNRF’s process for assessing risk to endangered species like the Blanding’s turtle.
Gillespie believes that testimony is relevant and necessary from Joe Crowley, the MNRF’s expert on reptiles and turtles, and Kathleen Pitt, the MNRF manager who oversaw permitting for White Pines.He argued that an appellant has a right to all the related documents on the basic principles of justness and fairness.
Four other lawyers challenged the motion: Sylvia Davis and Andrew Weretelnyck representing the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), Sunny Zhai for MNRF, and Patrick Duffy for approval holder/wind developer WPD.They questioned the timing of the motion at this stage, the broad scope of the materials and the difficulty of timely production, the focus of the materials on ESA permits rather the Renewal Energy Approval (REA) under appeal, and the overall need for such evidence, some of it dealing with Ostrander Point, when APPEC was calling its own expert witnesses.Duffy went so far as to accuse Gillespie of “bad faith” in using a delaying tactic.
In rebuttal, Gillespie pointed out that the ERT had been informed in September about the potential, but the need only became clear and imperative after documents were disclosed at the Ostrander appeal last week. Since much of the White Pines project adjoins Ostrander Point, Blanding’s turtles would also be harmed by White Pines access roads because experts had agreed that the turtles range over “the wetland complexes along the whole south shore and as far as six kilometers inland.”Gillespie therefore wondered how the White Pines ERT could choose not to follow the ruling of the Ostrander Point panel when the situations were so similar.
John Hirsch, the initial appellant of the White Pines REA, supported Gillespie’s motion by asking the ERT to consider why the MNRF, curiously, didn’t require an ESA permit for Blanding’s turtles which would be harmed by the White Pines project.
The hearing concluded with the ERT panel seeking comments on the scope of a production order and the probable timelines for witness preparation.A ruling on the motions will be given when the hearing resumes on November 3 at 10 a.m. in the Essroc Centre, Wellington.
LIVERMORE — A wind power provider that operates about 800 turbines in the Altamont Pass — where thousands of birds are believed killed by them each year — is shutting down its operations.
Altamont Winds told the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in an email Oct. 23 that it is ceasing operations as of Sunday [Nov. 1].
The decision was applauded by environmental groups, which for years have been fighting to build awareness around the large numbers of golden eagles, raptors, burrowing owls and other birds that are killed by turbines.
“It’s a really big deal,” said Michael Lynes, director of public policy for Audubon California. “(Altamont Winds) is the second-largest operator in the Altamont, and they were doggedly continuing to use those old turbines that we know have a disproportionately high rate of mortality.”
Friday October 30 was supposed to be the last day of the hearings in the Ostrander Point appeal, where a wind power project is planned (and approved by the province) for a location in habitat of the endangered Blandings turtle.
At issue up to this point has been the fact that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ (MNR) own at-risk species expert, Joe Crowley, determined that there was significant risk to the turtle and that proposed mitigation strategies would not be successful. The MNR, headed by District manager Karen Bellamy, ignored Crowley’s advice and issued a permit for the wind power developer Gilead to proceed. The Tribunal demanded documentation be produced on the research and decision-making at the MNR.
Here is a report from the appellant, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists on Friday’s proceedings:
Ostrander Point ERT in Demorestville Day 3
After much procedural wrangling about the documents that were disclosed by Karen Bellamy, finally Ms. Bellamy’s cross examination was begun in the late morning. There was a discussion about how to deal with the vast amount of material that had been disclosed. Normally each item would be entered as an exhibit as it was discussed with the witness, but this was deemed to be a cumbersome method in this case. It was decided to get started and see how things went.
Mr. Wright [Robert Wright, co-chair of the Tribunal panel] was quite insistent that it was necessary to get on with the cross examination. [Appellant lawyer] Eric Gillespie started through the 1,500 documents that were disclosed. Most of the information that Eric was taking Ms. Bellamy to was about the process of how the Endangered Species Act was to be implemented and the plans for the Impact Management Plan. It became obvious that the approach of going through 1,500 documents one by one was not a productive exercise. Eric suggested – with the agreement of Ms. Davis and Ms. Kromkamp — that the documents could be grouped into categories and that a representative document or two from each category would provide the information he wanted to relay to the Tribunal.
Over the lunch break we went through the three volumes of documents and categorized them into groups such as: articles that could be removed from the record; articles that had been previously referred to; and a broad category of newspaper articles, Powerpoints, draft ESA permits and EBR postings and a group of unclassified emails.
The gist of Eric Gillespie’s argument was that the documents showed clear indications that Ms. Bellamy’s role was to coordinate and promote the Ostrander Point development. The written notes that were released through a freedom of information request included a communication between Ms. Bellamy and Mike Lord of Gilead regarding a CBC interview that took place in 2011. It was revealed that the “House Notes” about Ostrander Point that were delivered to assistant deputy ministers and deputy ministers were reviewed and approved by her. There were 31 newspaper articles in the released documents that showed that she was regularly receiving media stories about Ostrander Point.
The final argument was about which documents would be entered into the record as exhibits for the Tribunal to consider when making their decision on the case. Ms Kromkamp continued to assert that none of the documents were relevant to the remedy case. Eric Gillespie’s argument was that although some documents were not relevant, most of them were and these documents went to the determination of credibility of Ms. Bellamy as a fact witness. In his final submissions he pointed out the lack of information about the Blanding’s Turtle in any of the documents.
The organization of documents that Eric Gillespie proposed was accepted because it allowed for the tribunal to have context of the arguments presented. All the documents he proposed that the Tribunal accept as exhibits were accepted.
Two witnesses remain to be heard. There will be a teleconference on Wednesday Nov 4 to determine further timing for the Ostrander Point Environmental Review Tribunal hearings.
So, what we have so far as regards the Ministry of Natural Resources’ role:
the goal is to promote the wind power development, no matter what
the goal is to help the wind power proponent through the process, no matter what
actual science, i.e., evidence that serious and irreversible harm may come to the natural environment and wildlife is not to stand in the way
Note the Ministry’s mission statement below, taken from their website: the goal is to “protect biodiversity while promoting economic opportunities“…
These proceedings will be an eye-opener for those who thought the government’s role was to protect the environment and wildlife, not push through invasive power projects.
More news on this after the teleconference next week. Two more witnesses are to be heard from: Mike Lord of Gilead Power and Shawn Taylor, a “road ecologist” for the power developer.
MNR manager accused of being advocate for power developers, not the environment
October 29, 2015–
The appeal of the wind power project at Ostrander Point, on Prince Edward County’s South Shore, an Important Bird Area, and home to the endangered Blandings Turtle, continued yesterday in Ameliasburgh, where revelations from the Ministry of Natural Resources witnesses shocked those attending.
Here is a report from the Appellant, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN):
This day was spent in arguments. It began with a motion from Eric Gillespie to demand the release of all the documents from Joe Crowley and Karen Bellamy. The MOECC witnesses had previously been requested to release documents; however, it became evident during Ms Bellamy’s witness qualification that some documents released by freedom of information requests had not been released as a result of the Tribunal order and then it seemed that other documents that should have been released were not.
The question of the release of these documents was argued almost through the entire day.
The other matter of contention was exactly what Ms. Bellamy was allowed to be examined about. The Tribunal had made a decision that Ms. Bellamy’s evidence would only be related to fact. No opinions could be part of her evidence. As a result it was necessary to go through her whole witness statement to make a decision about which items would be heard and which would not be heard.
Finally, at about 4:20 pm the examination of Ms. Bellamy began. Ms. Bellamy responded to questions from Ms. Kromkamp of the MOECC about the Impact Monitoring Plan, Adaptive Management and the Endangered Species Act all as they related to the permits for Ostrander Point. With a brief break at 5 pm so that Eric Gillespie could postpone a previously arranged teleconference Ms. Bellamy was on the stand until 6 pm. Her cross examination by Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Paliere of South Shore Conservancy will proceed when the Tribunal resumes.
The Tribunal was adjourned until such time as the documents are released and counsel has an opportunity to look at them. The decision about whether to resume the hearing on Friday will be made in a teleconference tomorrow. [Thursday October 29]
So the issues here are:
why did the MOECC and the MNR not release documents, when they were directed to do so by the Environmental Review Tribunal panel? They were only caught out in this because citizens had spent money to do Freedom of Information requests, and possessed important and relevant information.
Bellamy, an executive with the MNR, revealed that the MNR was aware of the advice of at-risk species expert Joe Crowley but chose to ignore it; she appears to have acted alone to determine to give a permit for the power project, but received “thanks” from the MOECC for helping push the power project through. (The relationship between the MNR and the power developer was apparently so cosy that questions were raised as to whether Ms Bellamy had a “personal relationship” with the contact person for the wind power developer, due to the nature of the emails revealed.)
Lawyer Eric Gillespie accused Karen Bellamy of not acting as an advocate for the environment and wildlife as she is supposed to do but rather, acting as an advocate for the proponent.
Mr Gillespie also accused the MOECC of stringing out the proceedings and not producing relevant documents over the course of three years and now five separate legal hearings. Costs to the appellants will be an issue, he said.
Will the revelations here have an impact on other appeals held in the past, where documentation was also not produced or revealed to the Tribunal?
Ostrander Point, once all about a little turtle, now shares concerns with the lawsuit by Mesa Power vs Canada, in which it is alleged that the government contracting process for wind power is “arbitrary” and political; issues such as the role of the MOECC’s so-called “iterative process” (in which the Ministry and the wind power proponent work together to make changes to the project so it can proceed, often without public oversight or notice, as in the Gunn’s Hill project) are also being called into question.
It was not certain on Wednesday whether the proceedings would resume as planned, but in a teleconference held Thursday afternoon, the Parties decided the hearing will continue on Friday, October 30, in Demorestville.
Law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson has published a detailed analysis of last week’s election win as regards the environment and energy policy.
With regard to energy and renewables, and climate change in specific, the analysts had this to say:
Mr. Trudeau has promised to “provide national leadership” and work with the provinces to take action on climate change. In the short term, he plans to attend the Conference of the Parties in Paris this December, and within 90 days establish a cross-country framework on climate change. A specific action item is the creation of a Low Carbon Economy Trust, which would provide funding to projects that materially reduce emissions. The Liberals have pledged 2 billion dollars in funds to this Trust.
This approach recognizes that the provinces hold significant power to shape climate initiatives. While the Liberals have promised a Pan-Canadian approach and a Canadian Energy Strategy, the new government has not promised that all measures adopted will be consistent across Canada. However, the federal government does have the jurisdiction to implement certain changes related to emissions. For instance, in the medium-term, Mr. Trudeau has promised to phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, in keeping with G20 commitments. He will also work with the USA and Mexico to develop a North American clean energy agreement.14
The Liberals are also focused on creating more jobs, specifically in the clean technology sector. The Liberals plan to invest 100 million additional dollars in clean technology producers, and 200 million more each year to support the use of these technologies in Canada’s natural resource industries. Another aspect of their approach is to establish the Canadian Infrastructure Bank, which will provide low cost financing to new projects, with a specific interest in supporting renewable energy through the issuance of Green Bonds. These financing instruments are intended to “level the playing field” with fossil fuel energy sources.15
The Liberals, in short, have promised to kick-start a green economy, one with more jobs and funding for clean technology, and greater integration of these techs into Canadian industry. The federal government has promised to “lead by example” and increase the government’s use of these technologies such as through expanding the federal fleet of electric vehicles.16
Our hope is that they closely examine the Ontario experience, and determine that blindly following ideology without cost-benefit or impact analysis as Ontario has (despite advice from two Auditors General) is perhaps not the wisest course of action.
This story is interesting not because the dismissal of the appeal by citizens (real citizens, people who live in the community and will be affected by the utility-scale wind turbines), but because of comments about the nature of the appeal process in Ontario (stacked against citizens and communities) and the so-called “community” investment group backing the East Oxford power project.
Construction has started on Oxford County’s first wind farm, a 10-turbine project in the Township of Norwich.
The Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm was given the final green light after appeals against the project were rejected by Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.
“We are really thrilled, it is great news,” Helmut Schneider, president of the Oxford Community Energy Co-operative, developer of the wind farm, said Thursday.
Designed to produce as much as 18 megawatts of power, it’s developers estimate the wind farm will provide enough electricity for 6,000 homes.
Schneider said work on an access road to the wind farm started this week. Construction of the actual turbines will start in May when road restrictions are lifted.
The wind farm is expected to start producing power in August next year, Schneider said.
The towers and turbine blades will be manufactured in the Welland area. Other components will be imported from Germany.
The wind farm is a joint venture between Prowind Canada Inc., Oxford Community Energy Co-op, and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corp.
While some Oxford County residents have opposed the project, others have joined the co-operative project, Schneider said.
The co-op has 185 members and 140 investors with about one-third from Oxford County. About $9 million was raised for the project by selling shares and bonds to members of the co-operative.
“There is very good community involvement and a real proof of the confidence the investors have in us to manage their investment,” Schneider said.
Norwich Township declared itself “not a willing host” for wind farm development in 2013 and a citizen’s group, the East Oxford Community Alliance, appealed the Environment Ministry approval of Gunn’s Hill.
The objection was based on both health concerns and its close proximity to Curries Aerodrome.
Schneider said the co-op is committed to working with wind farm opponents.
“We are always open to that. We really want them to know this is a community project and we want to make sure they are informed about what is happening next,” he said.
Joan Morris, spokesperson for East Oxford Community Alliance, the citizens’ group that opposed the Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm, said she wasn’t surprised the appeal was dismissed given the Green Energy Act was written to pave the way for projects.
To succeed the group had to prove the project would cause harm, a legal standard that is unprecedented and only set up to protect the industry and not the public or environment, Morris said in an e-mail.
“How can you ever predict with 100% certainty? Therefore the public never has the opportunity to ‘win’ in the appeal process,” she said.
Morris also disputed the suggestion the project has community backing.
“This was not a cooperative that grew from the community – it was placed here by the developer who recruited Mr. Schneider to find members. Mr. Schneider lives outside the project area and his home will not be surrounded by wind turbines,” Morris said.
Several bylaws drafted by Dutton/Dunwich to counter the anticipated impact of industrial wind turbines have been referred to legal counsel for review before final adoption.
Council voted Wednesday for two readings only on bylaws designed to limit light flicker and noise generated by turbines.
One bylaw seeks to regulate noise from industrial wind turbines. The other is aimed at controlling shadow light flicker from a turbine.
The preamble to the bylaw defines it as: “Being a bylaw to prohibit shadow flicker from any source including, but not limited to, industrial wind turbines …”
Coun. Dan McKillop said the municipality should get clarification on certain points before it proceeds with final adoption and implementation of the bylaws.
McKillop suggested it would be better to spend the time having the bylaws reviewed to make sure Dutton/Dunwich is in sound legal position before they are passed into law.
First and second reading of the bylaws was passed unanimously on recorded votes for each.
One other building bylaw regulating permits and fees for construction of buildings, etc, specifically stated issuance of permits also applied to industrial wind turbines. That clause should be referred to legal counsel for review, McKillop pointed out.
Both light flicker and noise have been targetted as potential byproducts of industrial wind turbine operation.
Invenergy has aplied to erect wind turbines in Dutton/Duwnich and is awaiting approval.
Ontario’s Green Energy Act limits what steps municipalities can take to control wind turbines.
THE “ASSOCIATION TO PROTECT AMHERST ISLAND” HAS LAUNCHED AN APPEAL AGAINST THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT’S DECISION TO ALLOW 26 WIND TURBINES TO BE BUILT ON THE ISLAND. A PRELIMINARY HEARING BEGAN TODAY — TO HEAR REQUESTS FROM OTHER GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS WHO WISH TO SPEAK AT THE UPCOMING TRIBUNAL. NEWSWATCH’S JONNA SEMPLE EXPLAINS.
GATHERED IN THE ST. JOHN’S CHURCH HALL IN BATH MEMBERS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW TRIBUNAL HEAR FROM THOSE WHO WANT TO SPEAK AT THE UPCOMING APPEAL HEARING.
THE ASSOCIATION TO PROTECT AMHERST ISLAND HAS LAUNCHED AN APPEAL OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT’S APPROVAL OF WINDLECTRIC’S TURBINE ENERGY PROJECT.
WE’RE QUITE CONFIDENT THAT THE PROJECT HAS BEEN DISIGNED TO MEET ALL THE REQUIREMENTS AND THAT IN THE COURSE OF THIS PROCEEDING IT WILL BE DETERMINED THAT THE PROJECT DOESN’T MEET THE TESTS UNDER THE ERT HERE.”
TODAY 3 GROUPS AND 1 INDIVIDUAL RECEIVED PERMISSION TO MAKE STATEMENTS WHEN THE APPEAL PROCESS GETS UNDERWAY LATER THIS YEAR.
“THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITY HAS NOT TAKEN AN OVERALL POSITION ON THE AMHERST ISLAND WIND ENERGY PROJECT. IT HAS CONSISTENTLY RAISED CONCERNS WITH RESPECT TO OWL HABITAT ON AMHERST ISLAND.”
THE KINGSTON FIELD NATURALISTS ARE ALSO PLANNING TO SPEAK ABOUT THE POTENTIAL EFFECTS THE TURBINES COULD HAVE ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND BIRDS. ONE MOTHER WAS ALSO GIVEN PERMISSION TO SPEAK ABOUT HER WORRIES OVER THE CONSTRUCTION HAPPENING TOO CLOSE TO AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
“THE GOVERNMENT ACKNOWLEDGES THE CEMENT PLANT WILL BE RELEASING CONTAINMENTS TO THE ATMOSPHERE SURROUNDING THE PLANT, WHICH IS INCLUSIVE OF THE SCHOOL. SO THAT’S SULFUR-DIOXIDE, CARBON-DIOXIDE, YOU KNOW THINGS WE GO TO GREAT LENGTHS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM.”
“DESPITE THE APPEAL AND THE CONCERNS SOME HAVE ON THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF THE PROJECT – THE PROJECT MANAGER BEHIND THE WIND TURBINES REMAINS OPTIMISTIC.”
“OUR EXPECTATION IS THAT THE E.R.T. WILL FIND IN THE PROJECT’S FAVOUR AND UPHOLD THE PERMIT AND WE’LL START CONSTRUCTION IN EARNEST FOLLOWING THAT IN THE SPRING AND BE COMPLETE BY EARLY 2017.”
A THIRD GROUP WILL BE SPEAKING IN FAVOUR OF THE PROJECT AT THE HEARING. THE CITIZENS OF AMHERST ISLAND FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY IS A GROUP OF ABOUT 120 PEOPLE, MOST WILL HOST A WIND TURBINE ON THEIR PROPERTIES. WITNESS STATEMENTS AT THE TRIBUNAL WILL TAKE PLACE THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER. THE APPEAL PROCESS IS SET TO WRAP UP AT THE BEGINNING OF FEBRUARY. JS CKWSNEWSWATCH