Who Runs the MOE?

On January 2, 2014, the MOE posted the Amherst Island project on the EBR for public comment.  This is a significant step forward for the project, as the MOE now regards the draft documents Algonquin submitted as complete, in spite of widespread submissions that the draft documents were anything but.  Within 10 days of the posting, Algonquin was due to post their final documents, and the 60-day window for public comments would begin.

But a strange thing happened.  Within the description of the EBR posting, the area being studied was listed as Lots 29 to 76 in Concessions 1, 2 and 3.  If this were true, it would reduce the project to a fraction of what it was originally – of the 36 turbines in the draft plan only 16 are left.  Below is a clickable picture with the original turbines in red and the “new” project area in green.ai-ebr-pic-140105

For the human residents of Amherst, this new picture was very good.  It eliminated most of the turbines that were close to the far more numerous shoreline properties.  I and most of the anti-wind campaigners didn’t put much credence in this picture, as it almost certainly would have made the project non-viable.

However, the lot and concession numbers were not accidental.  If the MOE wanted a project that protected the residents as opposed to one that provided Algonquin with profits, this is what they’d likely come up with.  So maybe, just maybe, the MOE finally decided to stand up to the wind industry and actually protect the neighbors.

Numerous inquiries were made of all the appropriate parties.  By Monday the 6th, it was reported by Algonquin (not the MOE, curiously) that the EBR posting was inaccurate and that the project remained basically unchanged from the draft documents, and that the posting would be corrected.  Dutifully, on January 7 the January 2 EBR posting was replaced with the offending location now changed to “Various locations, Loyalist Township, County of Lennox and Addington”.  Algonquin’s deadline was also moved back, as was the 60-day public comment period.

“Various locations”?  Are they kidding?  The MOE posts it and isn’t aware, apparently, of the locations where the project will have impacts?  This entire episode raises a number of questions.  What was the intention of the MOE by posting it?  You cannot creditably claim it was a typographical error.  Perhaps the MOE had several alternative project plans and grabbed the wrong folder when it came time for the posting.  But that’s a pretty significant miscue on the MOE’s part, indicating at the least that the MOE is fundamentally incompetent.

Other explanations are worse.  Was the January 2 posting a surprise to Algonquin? Did Algonquin call the MOE to complain?  Did the MOE, in response to the call, make the changes?  If this scenario was the case, we shift from fundamental incompetence to outright corruption.  Or, was this the MOE’s idea of a sick joke, something to give the natives some hope before dashing it.  Now we’re into psychopathic corruption, something North Korea seems to be fond of.

Kathleen Wynne, the Ontario premier, has made noises about running a more transparent government, particularly with regard to the wind turbine issue.  So far, that’s all it’s been – noises.  This would be an excellent time for her to show us all that she means what she says; by performing an investigation that supplies us with truthful answers to these and other questions about this affair.  I am not holding my breath.

7 thoughts on “Who Runs the MOE?”

  1. This website is going off the rails. Now it’s spouting conspiracy theories and claiming that the Ministry of the Environment engages is in the throes of “psychopathic corruption”, and evokes North Korea to attempt to prove a point?

    I’ve said and written many times that I’m not a fan of wind turbines as a green energy solution for today, but I’m also not a fan of this sort of wackadoo crap, either. There are thoughtful, measured and factual arguments to be made for and against wind turbines, and that is the realm in which the debate should take place. It doesn’t help the side who’s opposed to the turbines when these are their spokespeople.

    At the end of the day I will support the rights of land owners to do with their property as they choose; even if that means hosting wind turbines. I mean, I think even the anti-wind turbine set needs to recognize the rights of land owners to do with their land as they choose, because if they hadn’t been able to do so in the past many of them wouldn’t own the homes they now do.

    Imagine for a second if the will of the majority had been taken into account when many island land owners chose to break up farms to make way for residential lots. Well, to say the least, the Association to Protect Amherst Island would have many, many fewer members in that alternate reality.

  2. Hi Terry. Several things. I agree that I take some liberties with my postings, and the NK comment wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. BUT the fact that you think I might be serious is quite an indicator of the situation. Tell me, what is your theory of why the fake EBR posting was made? And it is not creditable that it was some sort of typo.

  3. Oh, one more thing. You support the rights of land owners to do with their property as they choose? Really? Nuclear dump? Drag strip? Even a cursory look at history tells us that way leads to chaos and violence. We count on government to set the standards for property use, and for whatever reasons this government has chosen to violate that most basic of duties – to protect its citizens. Can you come up with any rationale for Ontario to be jamming wind turbines everywhere? Carbon? Lower prices? More secure supply? As this plays out, the only reason left is corruption.

  4. Well, okay, I guess one of the things that causes problems with this website is your flair for hyperbole. I think if you’re running a website that purports to speak to serious issues it ought to do it in a serious way. If you’re not speaking seriously how can you be expected to be taken seriously?

    That said, I’m not above a little flair myself when attempting to prove a point, but I’m not typically trying to convince anyone else of my argument for any reason other than to convince them. If I were trying to change public policy I think I’d stick to my grown-up voice. But, your mileage may vary.

    Part of the problem with the characterizations that you’re making, for example, your reassertion of the ERB as “fake” without any evidence whatsoever of that being the case is that to the vast majority of people that hurts your credibility more than the MOE’s (or Algonquin’s). Yes, you’re going to have the support of the echo chamber who believes your every word, lifting you on their shoulders, but you had them anyway. If you’re trying to convince the mainstream, if you’re trying to convinced the people who can be convinced, there’s a way to do that: it’s nuanced, it’s reasoned, it’s factual. It is not, in almost any way at all, reflected in the content of this post.

    The post on the MOE website was incorrect. It was changed. It was even changed quietly, you might say. But that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? I mean, at least that as much of anything that we know for sure. Bandying about lines like “fake”, or “corrupt” or “psychopathic” just look desperate and, well, wackadoo.

    You say that the mistake cannot be chalked up to a typographical error. Well, yes, in that much your are correct. But I would dare say there’s a middle ground between typographical errors and North Korean-style psychopathic corruption. It’s a little daunting that you seem to be unable to see that.

    I tend to come down hard on the wind turbine opponents. I do this, I think, because of my nearly universal disappointment in the way that they’re making their arguments in this debate. I want so very much to be able to say that I support one of the groups that oppose the wind turbines, but I can’t. I just simply can’t. I can’t get behind this kind of rhetoric that does nothing more than try to propagandize a nothing blip on a government website.

    I don’t like wind turbines. I hate them, actually. H.A.T.E. them. I don’t like the look of them, I don’t like the sound of them, I don’t like the cost of them, I don’t like the inefficiency of them, I don’t believe they’re truly green after their lifetime carbon balance sheet is totaled up. But none of that means that I get to do anything else except express that opinion, and attempt to support it with as many facts as I can.

    None of that drives me to villainize my neighbours who choose to put them on their land. None of that drives me to make wild and unsubstantiated claims about corruption, or fakery or North Korea.

    I’ve been at the wind turbine opposition game for a long time. Longer than most. If you check the Whig Standard archives you’ll find articles and letters to the editor written by me on the subject that predate even the Wolfe Island Wind Farm. I’ve written my letters to public officials, to members of the party in power, to members of the party in opposition. I’ve written my letters and sent them blindly into the bureaucracy. All asking for changes to be made to the public policy and suggesting alternatives that could and should be pursued until such time that wind turbines – if ever they are – are ready for prime time.

    It wasn’t the encroachment into my backyard that got me involved. It wasn’t, even, the threat to wildlife, or the way of life, that got me involved. I just don’t like wind turbines (see above). For the record I’m not wild about solar panels, either. At least not the ones that are placed on the ground over agricultural land… the roof mounted ones are a-okay with me.

    All that having been said, I still support the right of the land owners to do with their property as they choose. Full stop. And, I think, the reason that I do, and can, is that I see them as two separate issues, mutually exclusive.

    You offer up such reasoned and logical suggested land uses as a “nuclear dump” or “drag strip”, and while I’ll admit to not being entirely sure what the second one is, I do know what the first one is. And, yes, if there were no government contravention against it, I would support the right of any land owner who wanted to use their land as a nuclear dump to do so. Would I like it? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support and recognize their right to it.

    From where would I summon the gall to attempt shame my neighbour for exercising their freedom to do with their property what they want to if they’re entirely within the bounds of the law? Because that’s what we’re talking about here. When we see the signs that claim “wind turbines make bad neighbours”; that’s very clear. Very specific. Not wind turbines “are” bad neighbours. Not even wind turbines “make for” bad neighbours. No, they “make bad neighbours”. That’s not a typographical error, either.

    Whether I agree with the law, or not, is immaterial to my neighbours right to act within it. At least that’s my stance. Again, your mileage clearly varies.

    I think your claim that the government of Ontario is “jamming” wind turbines everywhere shows a startling lack of understanding of the process that actually goes on. The government isn’t jamming the turbines everywhere. Private companies are building these projects – albeit with subsidies and very favourable contracts. But it is not the government of Ontario who sites them. Anywhere. And certainly not everywhere.

    Did the government of Ontario fail to project its citizens? Well, I guess if that’s in the eye of the beholder, really. If you feel that you need protected from wind turbines, then yes. The government did fail to protect against that.

    But then, I find that argument a bit disingenuous, too. (Surprised?) I mean, there have been letters to the editor from members of the island community who’ve bemoaned the wind turbine that will be near the island school. Oh, think of the children! Swoon! But those self same members of the community say nothing of the RoundUp that’s sprayed so close to the island school yard that the children could get wet at recess. Or the Bt (and I suspect RoundUp-ready) corn and grain crops that are planted around the island each year – a fair amount of it by members of the very family who pens many of those letters.

    You and I may be hyperbolic, but that’s hypocritical.

    In sum: Turbines bad. Neighbours not bad. Neighbours have rights. I respect them. Everyone should.

    Oh, and something about government.

  5. Thanks for your long and thoughtful reply. A drag strip is where they run drag races. Loud, very loud.

    It is curious that your main objection to the turbines is visceral. I don’t mind their looks, even though in mass there’s no doubt they industrialize whatever area they are built in. My objection to them is strictly rational. At least in Ontario, they have only downsides. No redeeming value at all. None.

    I will confess to letting my writing get away from me now and then. Like you, I’ve been at this a long time. If you look at my earlier postings, now moved over to windfarmrealities.org, you’ll find the kind of reasoned logical arguments that we’d all rather use. But the government’s motivations for putting these things up isn’t based on any reasoned logical arguments. Oh, they have their talking points, but every single one is some combination of incorrect, cherry-picked or invented. So either our government leaders are really stupid or really corrupt. There’s no other credible options remaining. In any event, Wynne has had more than enough time to recognize the folly of her decisions. That she hasn’t done so tells me she has no interest in doing so, and nothing I or anyone else writes will make her change.

    Over the past 50 years or so, both Canada and the US have had enough wealth and power to withstand the usual amounts of stupidity and corruption. I think that is no longer the case. Ontario is on the cusp of turning itself into a real mess, one that won’t be easily fixable, especially given our current crop of leaders. Same for the US. Watching a slow-motion train wreck is painful, and watching our leaders doing things that will only make it worse really gets me going. Thus the hyperbole.

    I agree that on the surface the changed posting seems to be a minor thing, but I wonder what went on behind the closed doors. To me, the change represents the tip of what might be a very large iceberg. Maybe there’s nothing there but incompetence. Maybe it was just a matter of someone grabbing the wrong folder – that was my first “conspiracy”. But maybe there’s a great deal more, like a (perhaps threatening) call from Algonquin to the MOE. I think Wynne has a duty to let us know what happened.

    Your insistence on letting landowners do whatever with their land is troubling. In the same way that there’s capital market regulations; food, water and drug regulations and so on; there’s land zoning. It’s part of our “civilized” society. We know what happens if we don’t have these things, and it’s not pretty.

  6. Okay, well, I’m not sure that any of my objections are actually visceral (my reaction, perhaps, not so much the objections), but entertaining that premise for a moment, you’re also confusing the order in which they were typed with the order in which they matter to me.

    I guess I’m just afraid that when one allows the immutability of their opponent’s position to radicalize their argument they sacrifice the high ground in the debate. And I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that. For one thing, it seldom works.

    Oh sure, there are plenty of things wrong with the green energy strategy. I mean, at its core it’s a good idea. Its heart, and the hearts of the men and women who crafted it, are in the right place. I would disagree with the fact that every single one of the talking points on the matter is cherry-picked. Some, probably, but that can be said of both sides. Even most if you want to call it that. But every single one? Doubtful. There’s too much science that proves that green energy is a good idea. Also, there are too many talking points that don’t actually make bold claims for them all to be wrong.

    Stupid or corrupt, eh? What about misinformed? That’s neither stupid nor corrupt, but it is certainly possible. And I’m also not sure that you can claim that Premier Wynne has had time to recognize the folly of her decisions but chosen not to correct them because, mostly, she wasn’t the one who made these decisions. She hasn’t acted to correct what many perceive as her predecessor’s folly, true, but that’s not the same thing as having acted in folly herself.

    You seem to continually misunderstand my point regarding the rights of landowners. So I’ll say it like this: I believe landowners should be completely free to do as they wish with their property within the bounds of the law. Full stop.

    Yes, zoning is a thing, and it should be adhered to. Food, water and drug regulations are a thing, and they should be adhered to. I’d love to see where and how you think I indicated that I think otherwise?

    What say should I have as to what goes on with my neighbours property beyond the bounds of what is lawful? I dislike the colour yellow, should I be able to impugn my neighbour who chooses yellow shutters? I don’t like weeds on my lawn, therefore my neighbour must get out on their hands and knees and pull every weed on theirs? Of course not. I can’t enforce any of that – and nor would I want to, let me just be clear, nor would I want to, hopefully I’ve said that enough for it to stick – because they, my neighbour, are perfectly within their rights to have weeds and yellow shutters.

    So, too, is my neighbour within his right to have a wind turbine. Whether I like it or not.

  7. Earlier you wrote “All that having been said, I still support the right of the land owners to do with their property as they choose. Full stop. ” There was nothing in there about being subject to zoning rules. So naturally I assumed you were not in favor of zoning rules. Or are you simply in favor of staying within the law, in this case zoning law?

    So we can agree that our neighbors have the lawful right to install wind turbines. That has never been at issue. What is at issue is that the government is allowing (even encouraging) them to do so, and causing harm to their neighbors. There have been a total of 5 published studies on wind turbines and health effects and all 5 found harmful effects. Aside from those, I would submit that any activity that has the ability to disturb a neighbor’s sleep on a regular and continuing basis should not be lawful. Wind turbines have consistently and unquestionably demonstrated that they have this ability, even within the current setbacks. Ontario’s failure to create noise rules to protect the neighbors is an abrogation of any government’s fundamental responsibilities to its citizens.

    Misinformed? Sorry, I’m not buying. There have been too many complaints, submissions, testimonies, studies and so on that any ignorance of the basic facts around wind turbines in now into willful ignorance territory.

    At its core a good idea? Sorry, I’m not buying that one either. It is not enough to have good intentions; after all the road to hell is paved with them. Using wind to support our grid has never been, in any rational analysis, a good idea. At least not without storage, which simply isn’t available on the scale needed. Our leaders have huge resources available to find out the latest available truth of engineering and scientific matters. They have utterly failed to do their homework. In other words, stupid. Unless they are smart, in which case they are corrupt. I did come up with a third choice, maybe: lazy.

    Wynne voted for the GEA. You could argue that was just blindly following the party line. Sorry, to me that’s not an excuse. She is as complicit as they come.

    As far as sacrificing the high ground, the government has never cared about the high ground. The high ground has accomplished nothing. In this fight, the high ground has been a distraction for suckers while the money is rolling in. People are being harmed directly and knowingly as a consequence of government decisions, and this has got to stop, regardless of how it is stopped.

    I can appreciate your efforts to keep the neighbors from each others throats, especially on an island. I suspect the social fabric of Amherst has been permanently altered for the worse, as it has been in countless other communities.

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