Link to London Free Press story documenting the 61 communities in Ontario that have declared themselves to be “Not a Willing Host” to huge, invasive wind power generation projects.
The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) will consider only whether the Dufferin Wind Power project and its transmission line pose serious risks to human, animal and plant health or would cause irreversible damage to the environment, among similar considerations, the preliminary hearing was told Monday.
The actual hearing is set for Aug. 20 in Grace Tipling Hall, Shelburne. There’ll be a few familiar faces participating along with several lawyers of note who’ll be acting for some parties to the hearing.
Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing Dennis Sanford of Melancthon in opposition to the project. Mr. Gillespie gained turbine recognition in Chatham-Kent proceedings a couple of years ago, and is currently waging a multi-million-dollar battle over turbine leases near Stayner, among other actions.
Joan Lever, also an opponent of turbines since the development of Melancthon Phase 1, is representing herself as a participant. In a somewhat lengthy and impassioned presentation
A Niagara Escarpment Commission manager appeared Monday to lodge an objection to the proximity of the wind farm to the escarpment. In part, the NEC’s opposition is to visual impact.
Amongst the heavy hitters, DWP is represented by Toronto’s Torys LLP, and Conserve Our Rural Environment (CORE) by the Toronto office of Davis LLP.
Davis lawyer Laura Bisset made representations for Dr. Crysdale of Mulmur whose property adjoins that of the most northerly farm within the DWP area at issue. She didn’t outline the doctor’s credentials but said his concerns are for human health.
Read the entire article at the Orangeville Citizen
On 12 July 2013 representatives of the Saxon State Ministries of Economics and of the Interior signed a joint “Decree on Minimum Distances between Residential Housing and Priority Areas and Other Areas Suitable for Wind Power”. The decree essentially stipulates a general minimum distance of 1,000 metres between residential housing and wind power plants, a press release issued by the State of Saxony says.
This would help to “reduce conflicts between immissions and adverse affects on the landscape on the on hand and the need for a moderate and sensitive expansion of wind power”, the statement says.
Judging from the press release (the decree is not available yet), the minimum distance seems to refer mainly to immission control law and seems stricter than in other German states. The Bavarian wind power decree points out that the Federal Immissions Control Act does not stipulate a minimum distance, pointing out that below a distance of 800 metres an expert opinion on the noise caused by the wind power plant (Lärmschutzgutachten) would have to be submitted. The wind power decree of the State of Baden-Württemberg states that regional planning authorities should observe a minimum distance of 700 metres from areas in which housing can not only be permitted by way of exception when designating priority zones for wind power.
The State of Saxony also informed that it plans to submit an amendment of the Federal Building Code (Baugesetzbuch) together with the State of Bavaria that would allow the federal states to set minimum standards to residential housing depending on the height of the wind power plant.
OTTAWA —The same process that led to Ontario’s “gas plant fiasco” is being used for wind-generation projects with disastrous results, says the head of a group concerned about a proposed wind farm in rural southern Ottawa.
“The gas plants got all the attention, but the wind-power projects are more widespread — and causing real problems for communities in terms of health problems, social disruption, lost property value and harm to the natural environment,” wrote Jane Wilson in a submission to the Ontario Power Generation and the Independent Energy System Operator as part of a “dialogue” about the way the province locates large power projects.
The consultation process stemmed from the political controversy around the location, and cancellation, of planned gas plants in southern Ontario. The Liberal government’s handling of the costly gas plant issue is the subject of an inquiry and a criminal investigation.
Ottawa Wind Concerns, which Wilson heads (in addition to Wind Concerns Ontario) wants a new system for planning and siting all large energy projects, including wind, that gives local communities more control.
For some time the interest in the release of the Ontario Electricity Finance Corporation’s (OEFC) annual report has been on the minds of many of Ontario’s ratepayers. The OEFC’s year-end is March 31st and in line with the annual budget an audit of the OEFC is a requirement of the Electricity Act 1998 (Act). According to part” 81. (1)” of the Act; “The Financial Corporation shall, within 90 days after the end of every fiscal year, submit to the Minister of Finance an annual report on its affairs during that fiscal year, signed by the chair of its board of directors. 1998, c. 15, Sched. A, s. 81 (1).”
By this date (mid July 2013) the public should have had acess to the March 31, 2012 and March 31, 2013 annual report but we don’t. Now if one delves further into the Act we note that: “The Minister of Finance shall submit the annual report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and shall then table the report in the Assembly. 1998, c. 15, Sched. A, s. 81 (3).” Insofar as the March 31, 2012 annual report is concerned the Minister responsible would have been our now retired and private sector employed former Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan and for the March 31, 2013 report it would have been the current Finance Minister, Charles Sousa. Needless to say neither of the past and current Finance Ministers have, as suggested in the act, submitted “the annual report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council” nor have they followed up by “then table[ing] the report in the Assembly.”
With the foregoing in mind I submitted a request to the “Freedom of Information Coordinator” of the Ministry of Energy, on June 24, 2013 in which I asked for the copy of the annual report for the year-end March 31, 2012 for OEFC. As the letter preceded (by 6 days) the “90 days” applicable to the 2013 annual report I thought that the FOI request would carry more weight.
As it turned out my request was forwarded to the FOI Coordinator at the Finance Ministry Office and I received a phone call on July 9th alerting me to that fact. During my conversation with that individual I was offered a choice of future actions; the first was that they could return my cheque for the $5.00 and I would get no information or they would cash my cheque and send a letter that would tell me that under “Section 22” of the Ontario FOI Act they would respond that: “(b) the head believes on reasonable grounds that the record or the information contained in the record will be published by an institution within ninety days after the request is made or within such further period of time as may be necessary for printing or translating the material for the purpose of printing it. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 22.”
I opted for the latter and then checked Hansard to determine the next “Legislative sitting” which has been scheduled for September 13, 2013 or 81 days after the date of my letter. Presumably the hope of the FOI officer responding to my letter is that Finance Minister Sousa will in fact table the March 31, 2012 OEFC annual report to the Lieutenant Governor before Sunday September 22, 2012.
While I appreciate that bureaucrats, no matter their political stripes are concerned about their job I find it appalling that the new Wynne Liberal Government who claim to want a “conversation” do not wish to table these annual statements from OEFC that annually bill 4.5 million Ontario ratepayers for approximately $1 billion. Two full years have passed and the take on the “stranded debt” from the ratepayers of the province is about $2 billion and we have had no accounting.
It begs the question where has our money gone and why are they keeping it a secret?
The headline in the Belleville Intelligencer of July 5, 2013 read “Turtles win wind battle”!
Apparently turtles (particularly those of the “Blandings” variety) not only outrace rabbits but they can sway power over lawyers in quasi-judicial positions as the results of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) for the Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP recently disclosed. Despite over 40 days of hearings with numerous witnesses called on behalf of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) it was the Blandings turtle that was the hero to the numerous Prince Edward County residents who opposed the erection of 9 industrial wind turbines at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources owned land known as Ostrander Point.
The costs, measured as; harm to humans that might be affected by industrial wind turbines or the rare alvar vegetation didn’t play into the decision by the two ERT panel members! As it turned out it was the slow moving endangered Blandings turtle that swayed them to make the first ever ruling against the Ministry that handed out the REA. A huge win, after numerous losses that places the “Blandings” turtle on a pedestal akin to a war hero or an Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meter dash.
The win by this slow moving reptile didn’t come cheaply as the efforts by both PECFN and APPEC to raise the funds necessary to sponsor their appeal are measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the appeal to complete their fundraising activities continue, as both try valiantly to close the gap to ensure that Eric Gillespie and his legal team’s costs are covered.
The other side; Gilead Power was represented by the legal team of one of Canada’s biggest law firms; McCarthy Tetrault and supported by the taxpayer financed legal team from the Ministry. Attending the hearings usually saw a minimum of two lawyers from both McCarthy Tetrault and two from the Ministry. On several days the McCarthy Tetrault group would number three so the costs to the REA holder were considerably more. Having personally had experience in dealing with some of the big “Bay Street” law firms, this writer would estimate that Gilead were on the hook for a mimimum of $1,000 per hour for at least 8 hours in each of those 40 or so days. The focus of the Gilead counsel was principally in attempting to make the PECFN and APPEC experts and common folk (those testifying about health issues caused by wind turbine noise) look bad. They didn’t and the ERT panel generally found all of the PECFN and APPEC witnesses very credible. In the end however, the hero was the Blandings turtle who came through and won the race.
The cost to the taxpayers over the 40 days was nominal as a percentage of the Ministry budget, but as a casual observer I was distracted each day I attended the hearing in Demorestville, by the fact that the lawyers for the Ministry arrived in their “hybrid” cars with the Ministry logo on the side and by the large SUV that the Gilead people would sometimes arrive in. Were the “hybrids” meant to sway the tribunal members proving that the Ministry lawyers were truly “green”? I never saw the cars that the McCarthy Tetrault people drove but there was always at least one BMW parked near the community centre which may have been their mode of transport.
Putting aside the mode of transport, it is interesting to speculate on the cost of legal fees that Gilead will be stuck with. Those fees will be tax deductible by Gilead whereas the legal fees paid for by APPEC and PECFN were all donated after tax dollars made by locals and many others throughout the province who saw the Ostrander Point project as the “line in the sand” for industrial wind turbine developments and supported the efforts of APPEC and PECFN by donating their hard earned money.
Examining the probable cost to Gilead and their partners (including OPSEU as a part owner), this writer’s estimated cost of their defence of the appeal was that it was close to the $1 million mark, considering; three lawyers attended the hearing for many days, the travel time to Demorestville, preparation time, research, expert witnesses, etc. The cost of the taxpayer paid legal team, was probably in the $100,000 range and for the tribunal members a similar cost would probably apply.
In total the overall cost of the tribunal hearing was in all likelihood, in the $1.5/$2 million range whereas the cost, had the REA been denied; would have been zero (0). Whatever possessed the MNR and the Environment Ministry to allow this to proceed is way beyond the scope or ability of this writer to either determine or comprehend, but, perhaps the reasoning might be found in a deleted e-mail. Anything beyond that would be pure speculation on the part of this writer.
The lesson, from the results of the foregoing is that no one on this planet should discount the value of a life, even those of an endangered reptile, and those who should give that lesson considerable thought are the bureaucrats entrusted to protect those lives. The dollar costs described above to the potentially injured parties would never have occurred without the Ontario Power Authority first granting the contract for the marginal electricity that the 22.5 megawatts may have provided. Power that would present itself to the grid 80% of the time when it is not needed. [refer: Fraser Report; Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act] Why the OPA granted the contract to Gilead in the first place is unknown and why Gilead were granted an REA is another unknown. If and when, a judicial enquiry is ever held in respect to the GEA, the reasons behind those approvals and the many others, in my opinion, may well open some eyes on how the regulatory system was one sided while attempting to give the appearance that the appellants had rights.
The Green Energy and Economy Act is truly the rabid (not rabbit) act that is working to destroy what has taken Ontarians decades to achieve! We should all be thankful that Ostrander Point has been blessed with the Blandings turtle who, so far, is the only real winner.
July 11, 2013
Green Energy Act Lawsuits
Minister plans to tweak Long-Term Energy Plan.
Over the past days, weeks, months and years much has been written about the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (Act) and how it has driven up Ontario’s cost of electricity, caused property values to fall, created health problems and also destroyed nature. The evidence has continued to mount that the Act has also created dissension in rural communities and caused neighbours to sue neighbours for leasing land to wind developers.
While those “neighbour against neighbour” lawsuits work their way through our judicial system, lurking in the background are other actions that potentially make the “gas plant” moves look cheap. The Province is being sued on several fronts as is the Federal Government! The latter is being sued under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) due to provisions in the Act related to the requirement for local content, whereas the Province is being sued through the Provincial Courts for actions caused by their offshore wind “moratorium” and their rejigging of onshore contracts.
The largest lawsuit ($2.25 billion) against the Province was brought by Trillium Wind Power in respect to an offshore wind development for which it didn’t even have a contract with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) but held a, “Applicant of Record” letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). While an Ontario Court has struck down that lawsuit the company is reportedly appealing it.
In an article in the Toronto Star on February 15, 2013 the issue of the, on again, off again, moratorium on wind development in the Great Lakes is explored and it would appear that no early resolution is in sight on whether the moratorium will or will not be lifted. Studies completed by the MNR on offshore wind are not conclusive! As has been the case for the Liberals planning since first elected; they announce their policy and wait for the fallout! Logic suggests studies should be completed before a policy is developed but that appears to run counter to Liberal strategy.
Another lawsuit comes from Mesa Power Group LLC, on a NAFTA action which reportedly seeks $775 million. Mesa is T. Boone Picken’s renewable energy group which had three projects high on the list of future contracts before the OPA rejigged it. Picken’s Mesa rushed to Ontario with his “GE” pre-ordered turbines, perhaps hoping to unload them after he shelved his big Texas wind development. He used Leader Resources of Kincardine, Ontario, as his Canadian arm (American Wind Alliance) to gain traction under the GEA. Mesa’s action claims favourtism was granted to Samsung under the contract that George Smitherman, former Minister of Energy, reputedly negotiated. How this one will play out is an unknown but it is before the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and Canada is required to defend this action on behalf of the Province.
Have those lawsuits and NAFTA challenges resulted in the need to rework the Long-Term Energy Plan? Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) would appear to think so and was reported (TorStar article) as saying: “the province is reviewing (writer’s emphasis) its long term energy plan this year, and hopes off-shore wind farms can be part of the review.”
A contact with Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s office about a month after the Hornung quote however got this response from an Energy Ministry spokesperson;
“You noted in your email that Mr. Hornung of CanWEA indicated in a newspaper article that “the province is reviewing its long term energy plan this year”. At this point the Ministry of Energy has not indicated to the public any intent to undertake a review of the Long Term Energy Plan.”
While details on the above legal actions can be found though an internet search, the best information available is in respect to Windstream Energy LLC who actually had a contract from the OPA to erect a 300 MW project in Lake Ontario called; Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc. (WWIS). The moratorium on offshore wind scuttled those plans for Windstream and the result is their action filed under Articles 1116, 1117 and 1120 of NAFTA. The arbitration filing (late January, 2013) with the Government of Canada; by Windstream’s counsel contains information related to the WWIS project that reflects on; how the project came about, who is behind it, the anticipated revenue stream, etc. The filing contains history surrounding the creation of the Act and bits of press releases and quotations that dominated Queen’s Park hyperbola at that time. Here is a taste of what is found in the filing:
“Government of Ontario representatives stated repeatedly that a primary purpose of the Green Energy Act was to create certainty for investors to invest in renewable power in Ontario and thereby create jobs — more than 50,000 new jobs between 2009 and 2012. Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure George Smitherman, speaking on February 20, 2009 to the Toronto Board of Trade, stated that the Green Energy Act,
… will make the province the destination of choice for green power developers, and incent proponents large and small to develop projects by offering an attractive price for renewable energy AND the certainty that creates an attractive investment climate.
Certainty that we will purchase the power at a fair price.
Certainty that we will get the power connected to the grid.
Certainty that government will issue permits in a timely way.”
In this document you discover that the party (Ian Baines) responsible for bringing us the TransAlta Wolfe Island wind development “leads the activities of Windstream and its investments in Ontario,”. The Wolfe Island wind development with 197.6 MW of nameplate capacity has the reputation of having the 2nd highest kill rate of birds and bats (per MW of installed capacity) in North America but recent testimony by a qualified ornithology expert at the Environmental Review Tribunal on Ostrander Point ranks it higher. The testimony heard by the ERT was that “had the carcass search area for Wolfe Island been the same as the wind development with the # 1 ranking Wolfe Island would have surpassed it by a considerable margin.”
Now that is some testimonial both to Mr. Baines and the Act!
Further on in the NAFTA filed document, the authors claim that the WWIS project would have generated “approximately CDN $5.1 billion in revenue.” over the 20 year FIT Contract Period ($255 million per annum). When the OPA signed the contract the FIT rate for off shore wind was $190 per megawatt hour (MWh), inferring the 300 MW of nameplate capacity was expected to generate 1,342,000 MWh. Now if you calculate what 300 MW would produce at say, 100% of capacity the result would be about 2.6 million MWh so the claim proposes that this wind development would have consistently produced at the rate of about 51% of its capacity. It would appear that Mr. Baines was shooting for another record but the document notes that proper “wind testing” was never carried out so the 51% (of capacity) required to produce the $5.1 billion dollars in revenue was never verified or may not be even close to actual output if erected. It is also not clear that there is any built in allowance for maintenance, and the penchant of wind turbines to age quicker then claimed.
The damage claim against the taxpayers of Canada submitted by the Bay Street law firm are for; “at least CDN$475,230,000, including for lost profits and other damages incurred as a result of the moratorium and related measures”. While the document claims the investment that was to be made was $1.5 billion it is not clear how much Windstream had incurred by way of sunk costs and it will be interesting to see if the UNCITRAL arbitration goes all the way to covering those “lost profits” but as a Canadian taxpayer one would hope it turns out to be a fraction of their claim.
So in summary; those three (3) law suits alone total $3.5 billion dollars or about three times the estimated cost of the gas plant moves.
No matter what the settlement by the Province or the Federal government for any or all of these lawsuits we should expect a press release from the Ontario Ministry of Energy’s office (assuming the Liberals remain in power) saying something akin to; “it will only cost the ______ (fill in blank with ratepayer or taxpayer) of Ontario____ (fill in blank) millions to settle”. Those settlement amounts will be added to our electricity bills or our Provincial debt (or our Federal debt) and the value to the ratepayer/taxpayers will be nothing.
In the event Minister Chiarelli tweaks the FIT program to allow offshore wind it will perhaps make one of those NAFTA lawsuits disappear however the effect will be to increase electricity prices on the backs of all of Ontario’s ratepayers to satisfy the frivolous Liberal concepts of how Ontarians should generate and pay for electricity.
Even if all of the lawsuits disappear, history will confirm it was simply another part of the boondoggle on the Ontario taxpayers or ratepayers the Liberal Energy portfolio achieved!
April 26, 2013
“equipment” and structures associated with wind power generation projects should be considered as a factor in the killing/harming and harassment of nature regardless of the presence or absence of information to this effect in the Guidelines; and,
that reasonable care relating to normal and proven bat and bird movements and activities must be taken to ensure that Crown land is being properly used in a way that conserves the natural environment, as is the intent of relevant legislation, as is expected by the citizens of Ontario.
There it was in black and white; the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) was granted by the Ministry of Natural Resources on December 20, 2012. The autograph at the bottom indicates Vic Schroter, P. Eng., Director 47.5, Environmental Protection Act, signed off on the REA to Ostrander Point GP Inc., as general partner for and on behalf of Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP. With the stroke of his pen Mr. Schroter, recently promoted from the position of Senior Noise Engineer, was unable to hear the noise from the 1500 people who choose to contact the Ministry with most objecting to the project. A plebiscite held in South Marysburg (where the turbines will be located) with an eligible voter turnout of 62% overwhelming (90.2%) voted against the project; but the “noise engineer” apparently was wearing earmuffs! The ability to kill, harm and harass birds, bats, blanding turtles, whip-poor-wills, flora, fauna was granted by a bureaucrat with a title that depicted someone operating to “protect” our environment but instead choosing to allow it to be decimated.
The Ostrander Wind Energy Park is a “nothing” in respect to the Liberal plans to inundate the Ontario countryside with these giant wind turbines that cause health problems, kill birds and bats and destroy nature and produce power when we seldom need it. Ostrander is a mere 22.5 MW project with nine 2.5 MW rated turbines. Those turbines will stand 525 feet tall and have blades with a sweep of 390 feet while they generate power. If they operate as all the other wind turbines do they will produce enough power to provide electricity to 20,500 homes for 29 % of the time those homes will need it-just don’t switch on the lights for the other 71 % of the time. The approximately 57,000 megawatt hours (MWh) they will produce in a full year was about half of what Ontario exported over the recent weekend. On Saturday and Sunday (January 19/20, 2013) Ontario exported over 90,000 MWh which was surplus to our needs so exactly why do we need these 22.5 MW is the question in everyone’s mind; and why place them in this sensitive nature area?
The approval granted by an individual within the Ministry of the Environment whose title with the words; “Environmental Protection Act” simply signed off on the approval to erect these turbines in a extremely sensitive “environmental” area of the county, an area globally known for it’s importance as an IBA (important bird area) and that is a mecca for naturalists due to its position on a migratory pathway as well as being a home to species at risk. This home to nature is shortly to be under attack, not from hunters or foragers but from a Government approved industrial wind developer. Those of us throughout the province who admire and want to protect nature stand in disbelief at the carnage that will unfold and that is a result of the Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) passed by the GTA centric Liberal Party.
If there was ever a “line in the sand” in respect to an REA from the Ministry of Natural Resources, thousands, perhaps millions of Ontarians felt that Ostrander would be it! Instead, those opposed to the project must of necessity and common sense line up to fight the granting of the approval in front of a environment review tribunal who have yet to overturn a single previously approved REA.
Those in the County of Prince Edward who oppose this are shaking their heads in disbelief as are million of Ontarians throughout the Province.
Our politicians now have a good reason to repeal the GEA!
January 22, 2013
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.”
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.
October 20, 2012
The opinions expressed above are those of the writer.