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UTILITY COMPANY SENTENCED IN WYOMING FOR KILLING PROTECTED BIRDS AT WIND PROJECTS

NOVEMBER 22, 2013

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UTILITY COMPANY SENTENCED IN WYOMING FOR KILLING PROTECTED BIRDS AT WIND PROJECTS

          WASHINGTON – Duke Energy Renewables Inc., a subsidiary of Duke Energy Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Wyoming today to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) in connection with the deaths of protected birds, including golden eagles, at two of the company’s wind projects in Wyoming.  This case represents the first ever criminal enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unpermitted avian takings at wind projects.

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Movement in Illinois calls for Freedom of Information documents on wind turbines

Dear all,

In Illinois, there is a movement to call for documents related to wind turbine propaganda…..as below. I think this is useful for all of us to pursue. Rather easy to do, and may have far reaching implications. I would extend the FOI to all Ministries of Education and as below, all active wind producers in their/our areas.

Sherri Lange

Pursuant to the Illinois and federal Freedom of Information Acts, we hereby request copies of documents and records, as defined in the Acts, that relate to any of the following:

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Concerns over porpoises prompt EU action over offshore wind farm plan

walesAugust 20, 2013
By Rachael Misstear

EU Commission steps in over Atlantic Array development after complaint relating to harbour porpoises.

porpThe European Commission has stepped in over controversial plans to position one of the world’s biggest offshore wind farms between Wales and Devon.

The £3bn Atlantic Array wind farm between Cornwall and Swansea Bay would see around 250 turbines built between Lundy Island and Gower by Swindon-based RWE npower renewables.

But allowing the development, which includes the Outer Bristol Channel, would breach European Habitat Directives.

The EU Commission has confirmed it is taking infringement action against the UK Authorities for failing to adequately protect native harbour porpoises.

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Keith Stelling – 8.0 – Illegal contravention of existing federal-provincial legislation

8.0 Illegal contravention of existing federal and provincial legislation

Under the Ontario Endangered Species Act (2007), the MNR is required:
1. To identify species at risk based on the best available scientific information. . . .
2. To protect species that are at risk and their habitats, and to promote the recovery of species that are at risk”. Ontario Endangered Species Act (2007)

The Endangered Species Act says: “(3) In preparing a strategy under subsection (1), the persons who are preparing the strategy shall consider the principle that, where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason
for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat. 2007, c. 6, s. 11 (3)”.

A decision to grant an Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island would therefore represent a failure of the MNR to fulfill its responsibilities under the Ontario Endangered Species Act (2007).

A decision to grant an Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island would also contravene Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act (1994).

Keith Stelling 7.0 – Requirements for clause 17(2)(c) are not met

7.0 Requirements for clause 17(2)(c) are not met.

The MNR defines overall benefit as:
1. “increasing the number of reproductively-capable individuals of the species living in the wild;
2. “increasing the distribution of the species within its natural range;
3. “increasing the viability or resilience of existing population(s);
4. “bringing about an abatement or reversal of a declining population trend (i.e. reduction of key threats to the species survival);
5. or “increasing the quality or amount of habitat for the species”. (23)

Where there is an increased potential for risk to the species or its habitat or proposed overall benefit actions carry a higher degree of uncertainty, determination of the adequacy of the overall benefit plan will err on the side of caution in favour of affording greater benefits to the species or habitat.

The MNR policy decisions are required to be based upon the principles that the “MNR staff should exercise caution and special concerns for natural values in the face of . . . uncertainty” and that “it is less costly and more effective to anticipate and prevent negative environmental impacts before
undertaking new activities than it is to correct environmental problems after the fact”.

By issuing “Overall Benefit Permits”, it appears that the MNR would be failing to anticipate and prevent the negative environmental impacts outlined above. The MNR would also be failing to recognize the threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity associated with the issuing of “Overall Benefit Permits”.

The action agreed to in the permits does not reduce key threats to these endangered species’ survival but rather compounds them.
There is every reason to believe that the increased potential for risk to the species and its habitat or proposed overall benefit actions carry a higher degree of uncertainty. However there is no evidence to show that “determination of the adequacy of the overall benefit plan has erred on the side of caution in favour of affording greater benefits to the species or habitat”.

It is therefore “necessary to require demonstration of the overall benefit before the proposed activity may commence”. However, demonstration to the contrary has already been provided at Wolfe Island. (24)

Therefore:
1. (i) There is no evidence that the mitigation plan has considered the cumulative negative effect of wind turbine development across Ontario in terms of collision mortality and habitat degradation to migrating passerines.
(ii) Nor has it taken into account, the known species sensitivity to habitat degradation and fragmentation—the single most important factor in these species decline.
(iii) The MOE and the MNR have not taken precautionary measures with regard to noise impacts from wind turbine developments on these species. Nor have they considered the masking effect of turbine blades which biologists believe is a threat to wildlife survival.
(iv) The MNR makes no indication that it has considered noise from wind turbines including low frequency noise as part of the cumulative impacts analysis of the wind facility on these species which biologists have observed are sensitive to noise.

2. There is no evidence that the proposed activity meets the legislated requirements for an overall benefit permit as listed by the MNR in its Endangered Species Act Submission Standards for Activity Review and 17(2)(c) Overall Benefit Permits February 2012.

3. There is no evidence that “the determination of the sufficiency of overall benefit actions has involved the consideration of the baseline condition of the species (e.g., numbers, current state, trend, sensitivity to disturbance, life processes) or habitat (e.g., amount, current state, trend,
sensitivity to disturbance and functionality) that would be adversely affected by the activity”.

4. MNR must consider the cumulative effect on the Eastern Meadowlark and the Bobolink of the other “Overall Benefit Permits” granted or being considered across Ontario. (25)

5. The MNR must also consider “the severity, geographic extent, duration and permanency of the potential adverse effects likely to result from the proposed activity”; likewise, the cumulative long term, geographically extensive and permanent effect (at least for 20 years = 6 generations of Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks) of multiple wind developments in Ontario and the Eastern USA as an additional limiting factor for these species.

6. It would appear from the above that, given the sensitivity of this ecological system the proposed overall benefit actions are biologically and ecologically” inappropriate for the species given sensitivity to habitat fragmentation and noise disturbance.

7. In view of the body of peer reviewed scientific knowledge referenced above, there is no evidence that the proposed actions are based on the best available scientific information, another legislative requirement.

8. Given the already documented vulnerability of these species to habitat fragmentation and disturbance, there is no reason to believe that “new knowledge acquired through actions to fill
critical information gaps” has the potential to contribute to an overall benefit plan where the lack of this knowledge is directly limiting the species’ protection and recovery. On the contrary, there is every reason to suggest that the activities allowed by the “Overall Benefit Permit” will directly lead to
the further decline of these species.

9. It has not been demonstrated that the overall benefit actions will improve the ability of the species at risk to carry out their various life processes; rather, in view of the scientific information available, quite the opposite effect is immediately foreseeable.

10. The MNR must recognize that “in some circumstances it may not be possible to achieve an overall benefit for the species”.
26

Keith Stelling – 6.0 – “The cumulative result of “Overall Benefit Permits”

6.0 “The cumulative result of “Overall Benefit Permits”

A survey of the MNR web site listing Overall Benefit Permits granted or under consideration by the ministry shows that a total of 575.8 hectares of mostly Bobolink and Meadowlark habitat are already facing destruction. This is more than a trivial limiting factor for these species. How then can an

Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island improve circumstances for these species in Ontario?
011-6209 Wainwright Twp Kenora District 21.9 hectares of Bobolink habitat Net loss*
(*no “enhancement”
information listed)
011-6966
Prince Edward
County
61 hectares Eastern
Meadowlark and Bobolink
Net loss*
011-6555
Township of
Howland, Manitoulin
District
6 hectares of Bobolink and
Eastern Meadowlark habitat
Net loss*
011-6838
City of Temiskaming
Shores, Ontario
56 hectares of Bobolink
habitat
Net loss*
011-6656 Township of South
Crosby, Leeds County
26.7 hectares of Bobolink
habitat
Net loss*
011-6168
Sophiasburgh
Township, Prince
Edward County
36 hectares of Bobolink and
Eastern Meadowlark habitat
substituted with 20
hectares Net loss of
16 hectares
011-6343
Loyalist Township,
Lennox & Addington
County
46 hectares
Bobolink and Eastern
Meadowlark habitat
Substituted with 45
hectares Net loss of
1 hectare
011-6238
Frontenac County 40 hectares Whip-poor-will
habitat
Net loss*
011-5217 Township of
Denison, Sudbury
District
45.8 hectares of Whip-poorwill
habitat
Net loss* Permit issued May 2,
2012
011-5781 Haldimand County
97.8 hectares Bobolink and
Eastern Meadowlark habitat
76 hectares of
fragmented habitat
to be substituted Net
loss of 21.8 hectares
Permit issued May
30, 2012
011-5403 Lanark County
53 hectares (ha) of land of
which 7.67 ha are considered
Bobolink habitat
Converting 9.59 ha
of land to Bobolink
habitat
Permit issued April
30, 2012
011-5218 South Himsworth
Township , Parry
Sound District
4.6-hectares of Bobolink
habitat
Net loss*
011-5076 S. Stormont , United
Counties of Stormont
Dundas & Glengarry
45 hectares Bobolink habitat Net loss*
011-5057 United Counties of
Leeds and Grenville
36 hectares Bobolink habitat Securing, improving
and maintaining 5.8
Permit issued
February 23, 2012
22
ha of new Bobolink
habitat lands Net
loss of 30.2 hectares
Total
Bobolink/Meadowlark/Whippoor-
will habitat destroyed:
575.8 hectares

The geographic extent of the habitat destruction across so many counties increases its severity as a limiting factor for these species. “Many years of data and theory [have been] developed in the scientific discipline of wildlife ecology, which understands that wildlife populations are necessarily connected via dispersal and migration, and that the more significant demographic unit is the meta-population (Hanski and Gilpin 1997,
Smallwood 2001, 2002)”.

According to Smallwood et al. (1999), the cumulative effects analysis should extend over the amortized life of the project or the permit duration, and should consider how long the types of
project impacts generally last.

Keith Stelling – 3.0 Failure to consider Scientific Research

3.0 Failure to consider body of scientific research
The EBR stipulates that scientific considerations must be part of decision-making in the ministry. Yet the ministry appears to have overlooked the most salient science related to the three threatened species, the Eastern Meadowlark, the Bobolink, and the Whip-poor-will which are all experiencing critical declines resulting from loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat. (7)

In May, 2011, the Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella Magna) was designated as “threatened”. This is the category reserved for a wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction if limiting factors are not reversed. Meadowlarks have experienced an overall decline of 71% from 1970 to 2009. They prefer weedy, older hayfields and abandoned grasslands and the loss of this habitat is the major factor in their decline.

The Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) has also acquired COSEWIC’s “threatened” status. “Over 25% of the global population of this grassland bird species breeds in Canada. . . .”. (COSEWIC 2012) Habitat loss and fragmentation are the main reason for its demise. The Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferous) has experienced long term and short term population declines (30% over the last 10 years), largely due to habitat loss and degradation. It is also listed as “threatened” by COSEWIC.(10)

3.1 Numbers decline when habitat is fragmented or reduced
“Habitat fragmentation not only reduces the habitat area of a species and of its food and nesting resources, but it also impedes access of the species or its food resources to habitat patches surrounded by the barriers creating the fragmentation (e.g., non-habitat). Habitat patches that are smaller than a certain size threshold or isolated by a certain distance threshold to other habitat patches are no longer able to support the species. Habitat fragmentation results in the reduction of
a net larger habitat area than can be measured by summing the remaining, apparent habitat patches (Wilcox and Murphy 1985, Saunders et al. 1991, Hall et al. 1997)”.(8)

The numbers of a species are likely to decline if its habitat is reduced; fragmentation effects imply that the value of the remaining habitat also is diminished”. (Johnson 2001) (9)

3.2 Reproductive success is lower in small habitat fragments
The loss caused by reduction of habitat and fragmentation is even more significant because of the special requirements of the species. Consider the Bobolink: Reproductive success is reportedly lower in small habitat fragments (Kuehl and Clark, 2002; Winter et al., 2004).

3.3 Bobolink sensitivities to area, habitat size, edge habitat and nest predation
The Bobolink is area sensitive. (Johnson, 2001). “The Bobolink is sensitive to habitat size (Fletcher and Korford, 2003); (Murphy, 2003); (Bollinger and Gavin, 2004); (Horn and Korford, 2006); (Renfrew and Ribic, 2008). Dr. Shawn Smallwood. “Comment on City of Elk Grove Sphere of Influence EIR”. 21 November 2011

“Habitat Fragmentation Effects on Birds in Grasslands and Wetlands”,
Douglas Johnson (11) A number of grassland birds including Bobolink and eastern Meadowlark are sensitive to noise with
decrease in numbers and breeding patches (Forman et al. 2002). (See section 4.3 below “Noise from wind turbines). The Bobolink responds negatively to the presence of edges separating its habitat, particularly forest edges (Helzer and Jelinski, 1999; Fletcher, 2003)”.
“Habitat fragmentation exacerbates the problem of habitat loss for grassland and wetland birds. Remaining patches of grasslands and wetlands may be too small, too isolated, and too influenced by edge effects to maintain viable populations of some breeding birds.” 10

The COSEWIC monograph on the Bobolink notes: “Throughout its breeding range, the main effect of habitat fragmentation is an increase in nest predation by various avian and terrestrial species (Johnson and Temple, 1990); (Lavallée, 1998); (Van Damme, 1999); (Renfrew and Ribic, 2003); (Bollinger and Gavin, 2004); (Renfrew et al., 2005)”.

“Such habitat specificity makes their [grassland birds] populations vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation at each stage of their annual life cycle. Not surprisingly, the primary cause of declines of grassland birds is related to declines in habitat supply and quality. . . (McCracken, 2005)”

Keith Stelling – 2.0: Economic, social, and scientific considerations

R2.0 Economic, social, and scientific considerations.
Under the Environmental Bill of Rights, Ministry decision-making must include “social, economic and scientific considerations”.

2.1 Economic cost of wind turbines
While the government and proponents continue to claim that wind turbines create jobs and contribute to the growth of the provincial economy, this contention is contradicted by Ontario’s
experience. From records that have become available over the last year, it is now apparent that the economic impact of The Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA) on the Ontario economy has been a negative one. Most of the jobs predicted by the GEA have failed to materialize. Wind turbine installations have
required only small numbers of temporary construction workers. With the international trade ruling against Ontario manufactured components, future profitability looks bleak for wind turbine
manufacturing. Skyrocketing electricity rates are forcing manufacturers and high electricity consumption businesses to leave the province, taking jobs with them. The Ontario Auditor General’s 2011 Report on Renewable Energy Initiatives noted that uncalculated costs were adding to energy bills with the consequent negative effect on industry, employment and
the economy. He cited the millions it is costing electricity ratepayers to export wind energy more (5) often than not produced during times it can not be used on the grid (86% in 2010). “From 2005 to the end of our audit in 2011, Ontario received $1.8 billion less for its electricity exports than what it actually cost electricity ratepayers of Ontario”1

EXAMPLE OF COSTS:
Operators of a wind development of 60 MW (slightly smaller than the one proposed for Amherst Island) are guaranteed $21 million per year.2 5045 MW of wind turbines are now3 in various stages of approval. This implies a committed charge to be borne by consumers of $1.76 billion per year, or over $336 per residential consumer on average. Even if an individual’s consumption falls, this committed expenditure must be recovered, so that would just result in an increase in rates to pay the
commitment. Storage options being discussed will more than double this committed cost. Most of the $1.76 billion will go offshore to big multinational energy corporations.

The construction of a 75-megawatt wind power facility on privately owned land on Amherst Island, in Loyalist Township, County of Lennox & Addington will not be of economic or social benefit to the Province.

2.2 The fallacy of CO2 savings
When the argument is made that without wind turbines there will be devastating global warming caused by galloping CO2 emissions and that neither birds and bats nor humans will survive is
fallacious because it assumes that industrial wind turbines when added to electricity grids reduce green house gas emissions. This is not true. CO2 emissions continue to rise in all countries that have installed wind turbines. (1) Auditor General’s 2011 Report on Renewable Energy Initiatives (Chapter 3 “Ministry of Energy: Electricity Sector—Renewable Energy Initiatives”), p. 112. (2) Based on an anticipated capacity factor of 30% and the feed in tariff guaranteed contract payment
of $135 per MWH, whether the energy is needed or not. (3) Identified by the OPA, IESO, and Environmental Registry.

It is also claimed that wind turbines are necessary to shut down coal generation. However wind cannot shut down coal because it is not a base line energy source. Its intermittency and
unpredictability require fossil-fuelled back up operating inefficiently 24/7.4 The Ontario Auditor General noted that the government was warned in 2007 that new wind power would create higher green house gas emissions.

5 Wind is not effective for displacing coal because wind energy availability is mismatched to demand. Much of the time in Ontario, both on a seasonal and a daily basis, wind is not available when needed. This is why wind energy introduces serious grid-management issues. Adding intermittent wind
output increases CO2 emissions. Experience gained with operating the existing wind turbines shows that in reality wind turbines are forcing non-carbon emitting generating sources to be less efficient, thereby unnecessarily increasing the warming of the atmosphere, discharging steam without generating electricity; or spilling water, while actually requiring on line excess capability of coal-fired and natural gas generators to be connected to the grid to provide back up for when the wind
generators drop in output.

This is happening with the current wind turbine penetration of 1726 MW on the IESO monitored system and 2015 MW in commercial operation (as identified by the Ontario Power Authority). A
further 3776 MW already under OPA contract is yet to be added to the system. When this magnitude of wind generation is added, either more base load nuclear units will be forced off line (as is already
4 In fact, coal generation is being increased in Germany as a result of the need to back up wind
turbines
5 A Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group letter to the Minister of Energy (and copied to the Minister of Natural Resources) dated 15 March, 2013, provided data showing that “coal generation dropped from 40 TWh in 2003 to 4 TWh in 2012, not because of a new policy of “expanding
renewable sources of energy,” but as a result of:
 the restart of nuclear units that was already in progress in 2003 and improved performance
of other nuclear units, (~ 20 TWh increase in nuclear output from 2003 to 2012);
 the addition of natural gas fired generators (~ 10 TWh increase from 2003 to 2012);
 and a reduction in the Ontario demand of about 15 TWh due to the economic setback since 2006.
7
happening), which will require carbon emitting gas fired units to take up the slack when wind output falls, as it invariably does; or the wind generators will be paid to shut down (which also is already happening). The IESO has estimated this will cost consumers an additional $200 million a year. Thereis no rational economic or environmental basis for continuing to add more wind to the Ontario system.

2.3 Social issues
In the words of an article in Municipal and Planning Law Reports:
“Industrial wind farms have generated wide-spread controversy, focusing on potential adverse
human health effects and ecosystem harm within the context of the precautionary principle, and
more particularly on the threat to bats and birds which are most vulnerable during migration. . . . narrow appeal right to the Environmental Review Tribunal has replaced both the appeal process under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 and pre-GEA opportunities to challenge approvals under municipal and provincial political and planning structures. The resulting loss of local authority and input has generated significant, organized public outcry. At present, Ontario’s permitting scheme for renewable energy undertakings is being challenged on issues of legal validity,
questions of best planning practices, and the role of local community consultation and participation”. There is widespread public outcry from conservationists and rural residents at the fact that that the
Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources is doing nothing to defend sensitive environments from electricity generation industrialization. In every case it is left to private initiatives to mount a defence for sensitive wildlife habitats against what should never have been allowed under Ontario’s environmental legislation or Provincial Policy Statement in the first place.
6 Marguerite Moore. “THROWing the PreCAUTIONary Principle TO THE WIND: The Green Energy Act,
a Permitting Process in Search of the Precautionary Principle and the Principle of Subsidiarity”.

Municipal and Planning Law Reports (Articles). 4th series, 2010.
Citizens are increasingly expressing their anger and resentment at the Green Energy Act’s unrealistic and prejudicial reversal of onus clause which requires residents to prove harm to health and the environment before a development has even been constructed. Because the appeal must be submitted within 15 days of the project’s approval it is not easy to engage a lawyer or for him or her to prepare a case in time. This makes it virtually impossible to win an appeal. Tribunals have even adjusted hearing dates so that appellants’ lawyers were unable to present their cases because of previous commitments about which they had already informed the Tribunal.

The growing number of approvals requiring citizen appeals through Environmental Review Tribunals is placing a huge additional financial burden upon rural residents. This process takes private citizen funding out of the community– money which could be more beneficially used for local needs. Rural citizens are forced to raise the funds for these courtroom contests, heavily weighted in favour of deep pocketed developers supported by teams of expensive lawyers. They also face a team of government lawyers opposing them—lawyers they themselves are paying through their taxes. The unfair appeals process itself is a source of growing frustration and bitterness for country residents. Energy poverty, however, is a social issue that extends also to the urban population. It is resulting from the relentless increase in electricity rates caused by the reckless and uncalculated government contract commitments for renewable energy. It is especially vexatious for households where a wage earner is unemployed, for low income families and the elderly on fixed incomes. The green association with skyrocketing electricity rates has already been responsible for the fall of at least one European government.

The government’s ill-considered inflexibility insists that there are no adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines on the basis of the report by the Chief Medical Officer of Health—a report discredited by international medical professionals as flawed and based on an earlier industry-produced document. Those who are experiencing distress from turbines operating too close to their homes are outraged at repeated use of this report to dismiss their sufferings. They point out that it failed to consider all of the available research or even consult with actual persons living near the turbines. This ultimately untenable position has caused even more indignation now that a review by Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health, Hazel Lynne using more recent documents, has found 18 peer reviewed studies that found evidence of an association between wind turbines and distress among some people who live near them and three which indicated distress was dose related. Every time another turbine development is approved, public outrage in rural Ontario becomes stronger.

Scores of municipalities have now indicated that they are not willing hosts to wind turbines. This is a huge social issue which, along with growing urban dissatisfaction at skyrocketing electricity costs and government waste through gas plant and other scandals is destined to have considerable repercussions in the near future.

Comments Re: Amherst Island Energy Project – Keith Stelling – Part 1

July 26, 2013

Comments Re: EBR Registry Number: 011-9446
Amherst Island Wind Energy Project
Permit for activities with conditions to achieve overall benefit to the species –
ESA s.17(2)(c) Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR)
Submitted by Keith Stelling

Contents
1.0 Issuing an Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island is inconsistent with the mandate of the MNR. …………… 3
1.1 Summary …. 3
2.0 Economic, social, and scientific considerations…. 4
2.1 Economic cost of wind turbines …. 4
2.2 The fallacy of CO2 savings ….. 5
2.3 Social issues ….. 7
3.0 Failure to consider body of scientific research ….. 9
3.1 Numbers decline when habitat is fragmented or reduced…. 10
3.2 Reproductive success is lower in small habitat fragments .10
3.3 Bobolink sensitivities to area, habitat size, edge habitat and nest predation ….. 10
4.0 Industrial wind turbines are a new, cumulative, limiting factor ….. 11
4.1 The ecosystem disturbance during construction has not been considered ….. 14
4.2 Bird and bat abundance declines at wind turbine sites … 15
4.3 Noise from wind turbines is detrimental to survival of wildlife …. 16
5.0 Mitigation ….. 18
5.1 Can industry self-monitoring be considered unbiased? …. 19
6.0 The cumulative result of “Overall Benefit Permits” ….. 21
7.0 Requirements for clause 17(2)(c) are not met ….. 22
8.0 Illegal contravention of existing federal and provincial legislation ….. 26
9.0 Conclusion ….. 26
References ….. 27

3
1.0 Issuing an Overall Benefit Permit for Amherst Island is inconsistent with the mandate of the MNR. It is incumbent upon the Ministry of Natural Resources under its mandate as confirmed in its Statement of Environmental Values, (Environmental Bill of Rights, (1994)) to protect and conserve “ecologically sensitive areas or processes”.
1.1 Summary
Amherst Island is an example of the type of critical habitat, and increasingly rare biological and ecological diversity that is the Ministry’s duty to protect. It is a migratory staging area, a recognized IBA (Important Bird Area) and its rich island ecological system contains three provincially significant wetlands and habitat for 34 species at risk. Many bird species protected by the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Ontario Endangered Species Act (ESA) use the entirety of the island. The development has the potential to adversely affect Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark and Eastern Whippoor-will habitat (among others). All three are experiencing critical population declines and have been listed by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) as “threatened.”

This presentation shows why issuing an “Overall Benefit Permit” to allow a 75-megawatt wind power facility to be constructed on Amherst Island would be a contravention of the ministry’s mandate to protect and conserve “ecologically sensitive areas or processes”. Such a decision would also have to be made in wilful blindness of existing scientific evidence (set forth below) as to the devastation such a development would cause to the three species facing critical declines. Since the MNR is committed to using up-to-date scientific evidence in making its decisions, this would be a further dereliction of duty. Finally, the issuing of an Overall Benefit Permit to allow the destruction of habitat of endangered species would contravene existing federal and provincial legislation and could not be justified on the basis of the incomplete and ineffective mitigation plan that has been presented.

Keith Stelling – 9.0 – Conclusions & References

9.0 Conclusion
To issue an Overall Benefit Permit for the proposed Amherst Island project fails to protect and conserve significant wildlife habitat. It also contravenes existing provincial and federal legislation, fails to align with the Ministry’s own guidelines for issuing such permits, and wilfully misunderstands the body of scientific research that clearly demonstrates that habitat fragmentation and destruction leads to irreversible declines in threatened species and that providing alternative habitat is usually unsuccessful, especially in the case of these three species which are habitat sensitive.

(27) The recent history of the MNR in dealings with wind farms has demonstrated a deplorable failure of due diligence and a breach of trust. The MNR is complicit in NOT protecting our environment. It should be remembered that the public are paying MNR wages, not the wind farms.

References
Barber, J., K. Crooks, and K. Fristrup. 2010. The costs of chronic noise exposure for terrestrial organisms. Trends Ecology and Evolution 25(3): 180–189. Available at:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/

Barrios, L., and A. Rodriguez. 2004. Behavioural and environmental correlates of soaring bird mortality at on-shore wind turbines. Journal of Applied Ecology. 41:72-81.

Bayne, E., L. Habib and S. Boutin. 2008. Impacts of Chronic Anthropogenic Noise from Energy-Sector Activity on Abundance of Songbirds in the Boreal Forest. Conservation Biology 22(5) 1186-1193.

Bollinger, E., and T. Gavin. 2004. Responses of nesting Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorous) to habitat edges. Auk 121:767-776.

hBrennan, L., R. Perez, S. Demaso, B. Ballard, and W. Kuvlevsky. 2009. Potential impacts of wind farm energy development on upland game birds: questions and concerns. Proceedings of the Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference: Tundra to Tropics, 179–183.

COSEWIC. 2012. Canadian Wildlife Species at Risk. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Desholm, M. and J. Kahlert. 2005. Avian collision risk at an offshore wind farm. Biol Lett. 2005 September 22; 1(3): 296–298. Published online 2005 June 9. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0336 PMCID: PMC1617151

Desholm, M. 2006. Wind farm related mortality among avian migrants – a remote sensing study and model analysis. Ph.D. Thesis, National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark.

Dooling, R. 2002. Avian Hearing and the Avoidance of Wind Turbines. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL/TP-500-30844. 83 p.

Dooling, R. and A. Popper. 2007. The effects of highway noise on birds. Report to the California. Department of Transportation, contract 43AO139. California Department of Transportation, Division of Environmental Analysis, Sacramento, California, USA.

Drewitt, A. and Langston, R. 2006. Assessing the impacts of wind farms on birds. Ibis, vol. 148, no. s1,
pp. 29-42, 2006. DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2006.00516.x28

Everaert, J., and E. Kuijken. 2007. Wind turbines and birds in Flanders (Belgium): Preliminary summary of the mortality research results. Belgian Research Institute for Nature and Forest. Ministry of the Flemish Community, Administration for Environment, Nature, Water and Land Management, Nature
Division. Agreement on the conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (The Hague, 1995).

Forman, R., B. Reineking and A. Hersperger. 2002. Road traffic and nearby grassland bird patterns in a suburbanizing landscape. Environmental Management 29:782-800.

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