The Ontario government needs to start giving us some straight answers on ‘green’ energy
By LORRIE GOLDSTEIN, TORONTO SUN
Normally, I don’t write about problems I encounter in getting information from government because I feel it’s too “inside baseball” for readers.
I’m making an exception because I think this incident illustrates the problems besieged opponents of industrial wind turbines living in communities across Ontario are encountering in getting straight answers from their own government.
This, as Premier Dalton McGuinty appears hell-bent on erecting these giant steel structures, up to 40-storeys high, as fast as he can.
The last time McGuinty was this juiced we got … eHealth.
Now he’s curtailing planning, environmental and other safeguards via his Green Energy Act.
The environmental group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (LOW) warns this law, combined with proposed ministry of natural resources policies on approving wind developments offshore and on Crown lands, restricts public input, empowers the government and private developers to change projects after the approval process is completed and risks turning government bureaucrats into allies of the wind industry at the expense of the public.
“If the provincial government prioritizes private interests over public ones, its independence, accountability and ability to protect the people of Ontario and the natural environment will be compromised” LOW warns.
My inquiries related to possible negative impacts of turbines on health, but there are other concerns.
For example the wind industry, which produces only intermittent power, isn’t viable without huge subsidies paid by all electricity consumers. What happens when they end?
And as with any power project, there are many environmental concerns.
My problems began while researching a column on a resolution by Tory MPP Bill Murdoch, up for legislative debate on Thursday, Oct. 29, on behalf of his Owen Sound-area constituents concerned about wind turbines.
The resolution — not binding on the government had it passed, which it didn’t — called for a moratorium on turbines until Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, declares them safe.
Aware King was in the thick of the H1N1 controversy, I phoned her office to find out if she had expressed any previous position on this issue. A health ministry spokesman told me she shared the government’s view, following a review of the relevant literature, that a moratorium wasn’t necessary.
I reported that in my column of Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Coincidentally, King appeared before a legislative committee that day and was asked by Tory MPP Christine Elliott (we hadn’t spoken) whether she had any views regarding health and wind turbines.
She replied: “Yes. In fact, we have been having ongoing discussions with the Ontario Agency for Health Protection. I actually met with them earlier today about this issue. What we’ll be doing, when time permits … is having a thorough discussion with all of the medical officers of health in this province about the existing information we have on any possible health effects related to wind turbines and determining whether any additional research needs to be done. I understand there is a research chair being established here in the province to address these kinds of issues. That will in fact enable us to be able to do more research on this issue, but I would anticipate that shortly we will come forward … with a view on the issue of any possible health effects related to wind turbines and what further work needs to be done in this area.”
That doesn’t mean King supports a moratorium. But it sure wasn’t what I was told by the government a day earlier.
Regarding King’s reference to a research chair, I had asked another government spokesman the day before when that position — promised by McGuinty months ago — would be filled. I was told it was still in the works. The day after my column ran, the Council of Ontario Universities and the environment ministry announced a competitive search for the position. Right.
I’ve covered politics for 30 years. If I can’t get straight answers from the government on two simple questions, imagine what local citizens concerned about wind factories must be going through.