Earlier this month, the public consultation period for the first phase of a Ministry of Natural Resources policy review drew to a close. The Ministry was soliciting comments from the public about four different policies and procedures that outline how the natural resources department should respond to wind energy development proposals: the Windpower Policy, the Windpower Procedures, the Waterpower Policy, and the Waterpower Procedures.
The policy review comes on the heels of Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act. This Act changed a variety of statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures. It resulted in massive changes to Ontario’s project licencing processes, energy plans, economy, and approach to environmental protection, including reductions in licencing and approvals processes under the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Environmental Protection Act.
The Ministry of Natural Resources needed to figure out if its older policies comply with the new Green Energy Act, so it launched a policy review. The review began in spring 2009. On July 24, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submitted a comment on the draft document. Last September, the Ministry released an updated version of that document and announced further reviews. Again, LOW submitted comments. Meanwhile, there is a moratorium on new applications for these kinds of projects on Crown land.
Another public review period began in December, 2009 and a public meeting was held in January. Waterkeeper attended that meeting and prepared a new comment for the Ministry of Natural Resources. In this comment, we encouraged the Ministry to consider environmental implications of wind power projects when releasing sites for development.
We recommended that the Ministry consider cumulative impacts - this means considering not just the impacts of one project, but the combined effects of many projects located close together. This is especially important for areas like central-east Lake Ontario where Canadian and American projects could see more than one thousand turbines built in the lake in the coming years.
Waterkeeper also encouraged the Ontario Power Authority to revisit - and complete - the Integrated Power System Plan. This is the province's overarching power plan that is supposed to guide where our energy comes from over the course of the next generation. The current plan was pulled from the Ontario Energy Board hearing process before the full hearing began. No province-wide energy plan is currently in place.
As always, we recommended that official decision-makers consult closely and respectfully with the public and that due process and democratic rights be respected in the regulatory process.
You can read our latest comment here.
This week on Living at the Barricades: Mark and Krystyn discuss two-tier environmental protection today – the idea that there are different rules for different people, usually based on who you know, how much money you have, or where you are. We look at federal and provincial examples of two-tier environmental law. Olympian Karen Percy-Lowe joins us at the end of the show to give tips to Mark for his upcoming torch run in Vancouver, BC.
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