Foul winds blow at workshop

John Bennett, Sierra Club: "I think basically they're NIMBYs"

By Paul Schliesmann, Kingston Whig Standard

The pro-wind power stance of the Sierra Club Canada environmental group caught its executive director in a political crosswind in Kingston this week.

John Bennett had a good day going on Tuesday. In the morning, he announced a joint application to the Federal Court of Canada to fight a shipment of decommissioned nuclear generators through the Great Lakes.

By Tuesday afternoon, during a workshop at the Little Catara -qui Creek Conservation Area to discuss the effects of wind turbines on migratory birds, Bennett was under siege from many of the 50 or so people in attendance.

They took exception to his recent assertions that a “misinformation campaign” was being spread about the negative health effects of wind turbines and Ontario’s new Green Energy Act.

More than one audience member accused Bennett of trumpeting the Liberal government line on green energy and forcing wind farms on eastern Ontarians.

People there wanted to know why the Sierra Club hadn’t raised objections about the 86-turbine project on Wolfe Island.

“This is weird,” said Bennett after hearing from several irate speakers. “I’m the one always being told to be reasonable.”

Kingston Field Naturalists hosted the workshop to help resolve “the dilemma that wind power has created for environmentalists.”

That didn’t happen.

Many of the 50 or so participants had come from Wolfe Island, Amherst Island and Prince Edward County — places where wind turbine farms are located or being planned — to share information about the negative impacts of the structures on birds and wildlife.

Bennett said environmental arguments are the way to fend off turbines — not claims about negative effects on human health.

“I think basically they’re NIMBYs,” he said in a follow-up interview with the Whig-Standard, “but somebody’s fanning the flames.”

Bennett said the No. 1 environmental issue is global warming, and wind energy is one way to reduce dependence on oil and coal. While finding it difficult to get a word in edgewise at the Kingston meeting, Bennett did agree with his audience that turbines should not be located on bird migration routes or in environmentally sensitive areas.

He told the Whig-Standard Wednesday that he had just assigned a Sierra Club intern to look into the proposal to place nine turbines on Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.

“I put her to work this morning. We will put out a statement on Ostrander Point if we believe it’s not an appropriate place,” he said.

On Tuesday, two women from the area, Myrna Wood and Cheryl Anderson, presented the findings of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists about the potential impact of the wind farm at Ostrander Point.

Using a series of overhead images and maps, they showed how service roads would criss-cross marsh areas inhabited by the Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species protected under the Ontario Endangered Species Act.

They also painted a picture of tired, migrating birds ascending and descending through the turning blades of the turbines.

“Given what we know about Wolfe Island, it seems that we really don’t need another demonstration project,” said Anderson. “We don’t think this is a good place for wind turbines.”

Amherst Island was also well represented.

Last month, the Ontario Power Authority approved a 75-mega -watt turbine project yet to be located on the island.

Elizabeth Barr, who owns a family farm on the island, travelled from Toronto for the workshop.

“What I see is a lot of eco-blame,” Barr told Bennett.

She said the proposal would see an “iron curtain of wind turbines” erected on the island.

Barr told the Whig-Standard that wind development companies consider Amherst Island to be “low-hanging fruit” because there are a number of farmers about to retire who could use the extra income from renting their land to turbines.

She said there are also relatively few “cottagers, lawyers and tourists” to raise objections.

On Wolfe Island, Barrie Gilbert is developing a “beached bird monitoring plan” to track the number and types of birds and fish that wash up at Big Sandy Bay.

The beach there faces the prevailing west wind and the shoals in Lake Ontario where a proposal for 100 offshore turbines was approved, then cancelled, by the province.

Gilbert wants to start gathering data that would prove the negative impact of the offshore project, should it be built, but like most of the attendees at Tuesday’s workshop, he wants to prevent the turbines from being built in the first place.

“I would like to see this stopped until we know the numbers of birds coming across,” said Gilbert.

Other conservation groups were in attendance, including Ted Cheskey of Nature Canada.

Cheskey called the Wolfe Island experience, and results of bird and bat kill counts at the wind farm, “instructive.”

He’s also critical of 2002 statistics from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showing that wind turbines kill far fewer birds than other manmade causes.

Striking windows in buildings accounts for a billion deaths a year and transmission lines another 174 million. Wind turbines kill just 33,000 birds a year in the U.S.

Cheskey said those statistics are like “comparing apples to oranges” because turbines kill different birds than buildings, tree swallows being the most notable.

“We’re avoiding the problem by making that comparison,” he said.

Anne Bell of Ontario Nature came to Bennett’s defence on Tuesday, saying that her organization also believes in the value of wind energy in reducing dependence on non-renewable and polluting coal and nuclear energies.

“We are pro-renewable energy and we are pro-wind,” said Bell. “We need green energy, no problem, but the siting is the issue.”

She said the Ontario government needs to do more studies on migratory routes and local habitats before approving wind installations.

Bennett said Sierra Club Canada resources are limited. The top campaigns listed on its website include saving the grizzly bear in Alberta, climate change, environmental law, the tar sands — and the Blanding’s turtle being threatened by a road extension in the city of Ottawa.

“Nobody from Wolfe Island ever phoned me,” he noted.

While he has put an intern on the Ostrander Point file, he can’t guarantee the same assistance for Amherst Islanders.

“We’ll have to look at it, but we don’t have the capacity to look into all these things,” said Bennett. “I don’t have someone sitting here to monitor every wind turbine project in the province.”

29 thoughts on “Foul winds blow at workshop

  1. “Bennett said the No. 1 environmental issue is global warming, and wind energy is one way to reduce dependence on oil and coal”

    Is he serious? He can’t really still believe that

  2. I always suspected there was something more behind the opposition to shipping those decommissioned nukes across the lakes. Looks like some of the same groups who are pushing wind are trying to give Nuclear a black eye and matching mole to boot.

    Lot’s more room for wind if we can stall nuclear deployment.

  3. Prove it Bennett!! Show us how wind turbines actually reduce the use of coal and our dependence on oil especially when oil only represents 2 % of Ontario’s electrical generation.

  4. “Nobody phoned me”!!!

    Now that’s a good one. Wasn’t the Wolfe Island project — and the ecological controversy surrounding it — in all the major papers in Ontario??

    Barrie Gilbert should realize that a lot of the bird/bat kills will not be washing up on beaches. They’ll be picked up and torn to pieces by gulls in short order. Unlike pro-windies, gulls aren’t stupid: they soon realize where the gravy train is and loaf in the area until something else plops down out of the sky. Dinner time!

    Ontario Nature should keep their big mouths shut. “Reducing dependence on non-renewables” translates into working and living in the Stone Age/Dream World. You could cover the province in wind turbines and solar and they would still amount to nothing more than an unreliable, intermittent and ultra-expensive add-on. Nuclear and hydro account for the vast amount of reliable power in the province and natural gas is now coming on stream to replace that “dirty” coal (natural gas is only half as dirty but apparently worse for the lungs).

    Ted Cheskey of Nature Canada will likely also find the future kills at Amherst and Ostrander Point “instructive”. Some of us get the message the first time around. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”

    Shame on you, Teddy. Shame on you Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, Sierra Club and all the other bum-kissing, urbanized ENGOs that let this assault on migration routes go on.

  5. Finally the rot is being peeled off the NGO’s onion skins!

    Let these reps keep talking and we will know soon enough their true intentions!……..to generate huge sums of money off fake GW claims and fossil fuel propaganda!

    Drag them into the “light of truth” and watch them reveal their “darkened agenda!”

  6. “This is weird,” said Bennett after hearing from several irate speakers. “I’m the one always being told to be reasonable.”

    You still are the one being told that Mr. Bennett.

    It isn’t the least bit weird.

  7. Bennett said “the No. 1 environmental issue is global warming, and wind energy is one way to reduce dependence on oil and coal.” and INCREASE dependence on natural gas.

    Industrial Wind Turbines are not like the small turbines people have with battery back-ups to get off the grid. The electricity isn’t stored and you can’t control the wind, so it needs to be paired with a form of generation that can be controlled. That’s why Ontario is building more gas plants and will need to continue building more.

    Coal is not being phased out by wind. It being replaced by another fossil fuel: natural gas.

    The price of natural gas has been kept artificially low by a process called “fracking” which has contaminated wells to the point that you can light up your kitchen tap. The process injects a mix of proprietary protected chemicals and water into the ground to break up the shale underneath. This water cannot be recovered. Quebec, which has banned the practice, has reported that over half of the shale gas wells in the province are leaking and an unknown amount of natural gas emissions, most likely methane, is escaping into the atmosphere. Methane is over twenty times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

    Like the Sierra Club cares about global warming. They seem more like the mouth of the natural gas industry.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KTOOJ3oaDc

    “Wind turbines kill just 33,000 birds a year in the U.S.” is a lie as pointed out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which has estimated that approximately 440,000 birds are being killed each year by wind turbines.

    http://www.abcbirds.org

  8. Great work on the part of those who attended the workshop – Bennett’s still recovering from their onslaught no doubt. The tide’s turning, so keep the heat on Bennett and his ilk, and continue exposing the Sierra Club’s hypocrisy.

    “Green campaigners love wind turbines, but the permanent magnets (in) a 3-megawatt turbine contain some two tons of rare earth.” – Lindsey Hilsum, ITV, PBS News Hour 14 Dec 2009

  9. Why are green-bandwagon types like Bennett, Suzuki et al hijacking Energy policy in Ontario… isn’t that something Engineers should be doing? Do they not understand that wind turbines destroy the landscape and produce only ~1/4 of their rated power AND need to be backed up with natural gas-fired turbines during peak times when the wind isn’t strong enough. Natural gas= methane which is far worse than CO2 as greenhouse gas. Stupidity and we’re paying for it whilst these people jet around the world!!

  10. Sorry, took a deep breath, and then another…

    You ADD transmission line extension kills to IWT kills and then you get the number of wind energy kills.

    I never hear of any anti-nuke campaigners shutting off their own electricity or at least reducing it by half to avoid consuming the nuclear power which has been about half the baseload generation for Ontario’s grid for …how long?

  11. This massive onslaught of IWT’s against us and our home and lands won’t stop until some serious legal charges are brought up against the people involved at every level of this Wind Scam………………that includes the NGO’s that are working behind the scenes to prop up the Wind Industry and corrupt “politicos” playing “front men” for this disgusting taxpayer rip off!

  12. The days of ENGOs and rent-seeking industry spouting misinformation unchallenged is over.

  13. What people like John Bennett have to realize is that we are not going away, nor will we stop our pursuit of justice with a change in government. We are in this for the long haul, and like Quixote said above, will continue until people are held accountable for hijacking our public policy and destroying our homes and communities.

  14. In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act – George Orwell

  15. No one can say they give a sh.. about birds and bats if they support developing industrial wind turbines. It is a bit old and pathetic hearing the false statements that IWTs can prevent global warming and would get us off oil made by Bennett. As an ED you would expect more intelligence than that. The Seirra Club is supposed to stand for the protection of wild nature. Something is horrible wrong when they support the industrialization of as much rural area as possible to support industrial wind turbines that through construction and operation would have more environmental impact than the tar sands. Maybe his intern should research the problems with industrial wind turbines. Now that would be intuitive.

  16. It would not be so laughable if wind energy helped to make a greener society, but it does not. So far no one I have seen will come forward with statitics that prove it is worth the social cost it imposes on rural Ontario.
    If they are so damned good , why not plaster them as close as you can on the whole Niagara Escarpment .
    Physics says heat rises, therefore you have more wind action. But I forgot, people with money live there.
    76 councils representing Ontario citizens are concerned , but according to our government, they are all to stupid to possibly reconize any problems.

  17. Finally, Ontario Nature / Anne Bell have fully come out of the closet. No more sitting on the fence for that group … we now know for certain of their misguided love affair with Big Wind. It boggles my mind that I once considered donating my 100 acre forest as a nature reserve to that bunch of losers …

  18. I hope Sun TV will examine the hypocritical stance and funding of some of these environmental groups.

  19. Did you hear about the nuclear power plant damaged by the quake? If it melts down, it could be another Chernobyl, making the impending tsunami look like a walk in the park.
    Nuclear energy is definetly not green or economnical, especially if you take into account the decommisioning that no one wants to pay for, public or private.

    • I’m a little late to this discussion. Got here through another thread.
      Joseph I work with safety statistics every day. Please accept the fact that there have been FOUR nuclear power plant accidents in nearly sixty years. Four. Of those, ONLY Chernobyl took human life. Greenpeace’s ridiculous claim that Chernobyl has killed 950,000 people is completely totally unjustifiable. Its based on an Excel spreadsheet without any observations, clinical data, or independent verification. It is a lie in every sense. Fukishima, despite being caused by the third most serious earthquake ever recorded, has killed ZERO people (two workers perished in the tsunami, two additional workers have received possible radiation doses which may affect their long-term health). There hasn’t been a single report, not one, of any other injury to the public associated with that very serious incident. The crisis is far from over but compared to the tsunami deaths and property damage 20 kms up the coast anyone with a reasonably analytic background would determine that that 20,000+ deaths and an estimated $200B in damage is a far greater impact than the nuclear plant. Mother Nature is, apparently, 10 times more dangerous to us humans than a 40 year old nuclear power plant that wasn’t hardened enough to withstand a 9.4 quake and a 30m tsunami.
      For the time being, Gen II Nuclear is necessary and needed throughout the world, unless you think its best that we simply turn the lights off. And if the Chinese get the Gen IV tech working, (proven in labs now), we’re all going to be paying them for our electricity in the future. We sure won’t be powering a planet with 10B souls on it with windmills and solar panels.

  20. Don’t jump the gun on the Tokai plant No. 2 reactor yet, and note all of their other nuclear plant safety systems appear to have kicked in. What a horrific disaster to live through – terrible.

  21. The U.S. Air Force delivered coolant to Tokai plant #2 within the past hour. Bravo Zulu!

  22. So Joseph and all other “Nuclear fear mongering Greenies”……..let’s build all our Nuclear Facilities on the worst “fault lines” in the world!…………ever checked to see who recommended their siting?………….bet you a nickel to a donut that some U.N. oriented group had their say in the sites!………..the very same people who are promoting Wind and Solar which don’t do a damn thing but make money for a few “elites” and create a false demand for more Natural Gas Plants!

    You and other “Greenies” have bought into a “false prophet”of doomsday thinking and are actually being more badly abused by them as we are because your buying their crap!

    Try and get more informed…….take off the Green Glasses!

  23. Honestly Joseph, turbines can not operate on their own with out back up by nuclear, gas or coal. No matter how much you hate these devices they have to be built if you’re going to have turbines. Even if Japan had ten’s of thousands of turbines, that nuclear plant would have still been there for back up power. No matter how you look at wind, it just doesn’t make sense.

  24. Isn’t it amazing how North America comes to
    the rescue when other countries are in danger?
    I wish these governments could see the
    suffering of their own people.
    (Don’t worry, Canada will be sending aid, too.)

    The world knows how to deal with clean nuclear.
    Canada and the US don’t seem to recognize the
    dangers of industrial wind. Maybe it has something
    to do with politician wanting to leave a legacy of
    being #l in being ‘green’ and ‘saving the world’,
    or who owns their debt.

  25. Joseph,
    Maybe we should have the farmers and landowners
    who have signed leases for IWT sign an agreement
    to be responsible for decommissioning the useless
    turbines. That would make them pull in their horns.
    Somebody will have to pay for it. It was their
    stupidity and greed, not mine.
    I am not a nasty person, but this wind issue has
    brought out the worst in me. I love my neighbours,
    no matter what they do.
    ‘Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”

  26. THE GREEN BUDGET COALITION , FEB.4,10, http://www.greenbudget.ca/media_040210.html

    “Green Budget Coalition Prioritizes 3 Budget Actions: for Biodiversity,Water & Energy”
    Andrew Van Iterson, Program manager, Green Budget Coalition
    Barry Turner,Green Budget Coalition;and Director of Government Relations,Ducks Unlimited,Canada

    GREEN BUDGET COALITION, http://www.greenbudget.ca, comprises 21 of Canada’s leading environmental and conservation organizations and has been active since 1999.
    Some Green Budget Coalition Members are:
    David Suzuki Foundation
    Ducks Unlimited, Canada
    Environmental Defence
    Equiterre
    Greenpeace,Canada
    International Institute for Sustainable Development
    Nature Canada
    Pembina Institute.
    Sierra Club,Canada
    WWF-Canada

  27. The article from the Onion is a parody newpaper! It was joke.

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