Two recent news items have pointed out the Ontario government’s stance toward endangered and at-risk species. If they’re in the way of “progress,” it’s OK to kill them. Ontario Ministry of the Environment lawyer Sylvia Davis told a court last year during an appeal related to Ostrander Point, habitat to endangered Blandings turtles (but also a site for migratory birds, and a rare, fragile alvar environment) : “So what if a few turtles die?” she said. “Wind power is important public infrastructure…”
A recent court decision has upheld the government’s ability to grant industry a pass when it comes to protecting endangered and at-risk species. Ontario Nature put out a news release last week to express its disappointment: “This is a disappointing decision for Ontario’s endangered and threatened wildlife,” said Ecojustice lawyer Lara Tessaro. “The Endangered Species Act is intended to put species first — not to let their survival be balanced against competing industrial interests. That would tip the scale towards extinction.”
The Environmental Review Tribunal also recently dismissed an appeal of the approval of the Niagara Region Wind power project, where as many as 20 turbines would be in established Blandings turtle habitat. The Tribunal would not even hear the evidence about the endangered turtles. MPP Tim Hudak protested in the Legislature last week, saying the government needs to “do the right thing” and protect the turtles.
Both these events underscore the simple reality of utility-scale wind power and all its promises to be a tool to save the environment, while producing “clean” power for Ontario. It is, as consultants to the Suzuki Foundation noted in a report on 2002, a high-impact form of power generation for low benefit.
We prefer turtles, thank you. And birds, and little red-sided fishes, and ancient maples, and yes, bats.
Once again, no cost-benefit analysis of ALL the impacts of Ontario’s rush to wind power has ever been done, despite recommendations from two Auditor General.
Ontario, and its unique environment deserves better.