Monthly Archives: June 2013
Yesterday afternoon we protested in London with a whole FIVE people at Health Minister/Deputy Premier Deb Matthews’ swanky garden party. I suppose if it were a meek five it would have been rather boring…..it was far from that though.
We chanted, educated, made the Liberals cringe for about an hour and a half on that hot afternoon. Deb stayed in the centre of the yard, surrounded by ‘her people’.
Her aide came out early on (before we got going vocally) and said he was glad to see were “respectful” and not like some of those people you see (ahem…) chanting and yelling on TV against turbines (I know, don’t laugh too hard – we were in dresses- he didn’t recognize us!).
I looked him in the eye and said, “You see those people on the front of the paper protesting wind turbines?”
“Yeah…?” he says, glancing up. Read the rest of this entry
Esther Wrightman speaks with Ezra Levant about her fight against big wind bullies.
WHEREAS the Premier of Ontario has recently conveyed the Government’s desire to limit Industrial Wind Turbine (IWT) Projects to communities that are willing hosts;
AND WHEREAS Council for the Municipality of Middlesex Centre has received a clear message from its residents that they are not willing to host to IWTs in Middlesex Centre;
AND WHEREAS Council for the Municipality of Middlesex Centre applauds the position taken by the Premier and the Government; A community of diverse citizens, rooted in rural and urban traditions, united through involvement, cooperation, and mutual respect
AND WHEREAS Council represents all citizens within the Municipality, both those in favour of wind projects and those opposed. As a result, Council needs to maintain a fair and balanced viewpoint; Read the rest of this entry
Esther Wrightman says she could be the poster child for Ontario’s proposed new law to curb strategic lawsuits launched to silence critics. The provincial government introduced the Protection of Public Participation Act just weeks after wind farm developer NextEra Energy Canada launched a lawsuit against Wrightman, a Middlesex County anti-wind activist.
Wrightman said that when she heard about the proposed new law, “I went, ‘What? Really? I could use that, right about now.” Ontario says the law, if passed, would allow courts to quickly identify and deal with strategic lawsuits launched to intimate opponents and reduce their ability to participate in public debates. The legislation, based on recommendations from an expert advisory panel, would also reduce time wasted in court on meritless claims, the government says.
“We live in a fair and democratic society, and we believe that this law will provide a balanced approach that recognizes both the right to public expression and the importance of protection of reputation,” said Attorney General John Gerretsen.
Wrightman said that while the new law may come too late to help her, it acknowledges that strategic lawsuits are a problem. Laws to protect citizens against strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) are common in the U.S., but Quebec is currently the only Canadian province with one. Read article
A big energy Corporation masquerading as poor little wind energy guys trying to help make our Province greener by hacking down big old Cottonwoods in Haldimand County and destroying an active eagle nest to “save” the birds has made their next bad move….They are suing the proverbial “little guy”.
In this case that is a diminutive mother of two who is fighting to protect her family, their heritage and our natural heritage. Esther Wrightman has been at the forefront of the resistance against industrial wind turbines in Ontario, working by day as a rock garden expert to provide for her family while her off hours activism has included managing two websites http://mlwindaction.org/ and http://ontario-wind-resistance.org and demanding accountability from politicians and industry.
Her statement of defence is an inventory of the series of bungles Nextera Energy Canada, a wholly-owned subsidiary of $57.2 billion dollar U.S. company NextEra Energy Ltd., formerly FPL Group Ltd., and owners of Florida Power & Light Inc., has made in the Renewable Energy Approvals process to earn itself the moniker “Next Error”. It is hard to believe such incompetence from a giant corporation has not been intentional. Read article
Ezra Levant, Edmonton Sun
A $32 billion energy corporation has filed a massive lawsuit against an Ontario environmentalist named Esther Wrightman. It’s a SLAPP suit: Strategic litigation against public participation. It’s not really about legal arguments. It’s about crushing Wrightman with legal bills and burning up her time, so she can’t spend time campaigning against them.
The lawsuit doesn’t allege Wrightman vandalized their property, or trespassed, or anything like that. Their complaint is that, on her homemade website, Wrightman mocked the company’s name. She even had the temerity to publish a satirical version of their logo. That’s it. That’s why they hired three lawyers at one of Canada’s largest law firms, McCarthy Tetrault, to sue her into the ground.
And the only reason you have not heard of this lawsuit — the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is not defending her free speech, the CBC has not put this on their nightly news — is because the corporate bully here is not an oil company like Exxon. It’s a wind turbine company called NextEra. See, that kind of bullying is OK. Read article
Green energy may be good for the environment, but a growing number of scientists are concerned it may not be for waterfowl. A recent study in the Dakotas is adding fuel to those concerns. It found breeding duck densities were considerably lower around large-scale wind farms compared to wetlands with no turbines in sight.
“We don’t know if the decline is a result of the towers themselves, the motion, noise of the blades, or the increased traffic from maintenance workers,” says USFWS biologist Dr. Chuck Loesch. “It could be a combination of all those or something else, but that really wasn’t the focus of the study. We wanted to determine if the presence of wind energy development had an impact on duck breeding densities.”
One nesting site had a 56-percent lower breeding pair density than a similar site with no wind turbines. Overall, the number of breeding ducks using wetlands near the wind farms was 20 percent lower than in wetlands with no wind development nearby.
Ducks are avoiding wind projects, but they may not have many options in the future. Loesch says the push for renewable energy will likely lead to a huge number of large-scale projects in the wind-rich Prairie Pothole Region. The projected footprint of future wind farms will cover more than 15,000-square miles by 2030 if the federal government meets its goal. The Department of Energy wants 20 percent of the country’s energy to come from renewable sources. It’s impossible to say where those new turbines will pop up, but Loesch says it’s inevitable many will be near critical areas. Read article
More on “Tilting at Windmills”: Ontario Tables Anti-SLAPP Legislation – & How It Could Cover Existing Cases
At just about the same time that news was breaking of NextEra’s controversial lawsuit against Esther Wrightman, the Ontario Government AG, the Hon. J. Gerrertsen, tabled Bill 83 – which would, if passed, introduce some remarkably positive changes to Ontario law regarding #SLAPP lawsuits. The bill, if passed, would provide much needed encouragement of public interest expression, commentary and participation. It would, indeed, serve as a serous chill against litigation of little or no merit that is intended to stifle or prevent public expressions of comment on matters of public interest. @EzraLevant, a well-known Sun News commentator, had some written and verbal comments on June 9, 2013 on the Sun website about NextEra’s lawsuit against Esther Wrightman and whether he sees it as a “SLAPP” suit.
Bill 83 would provide that if a party is sued as the result of “expression” made by a person concerning a matter of public interest, the defendant can move to have the proceedings thrown out unless the plaintiff can show that:
· The proceeding has “substantial merit”;
· The moving party has no valid defence; and
· The harm resulting from the defendant’s expression is sufficiently serious that that public interest in allowing the proceeding to continue would outweigh the public interest in protecting that expression.
Howard Knopf, Excess Copyright
A young mother and environmental activist in southern Ontario is being sued by Nextera, a wind turbine company, which is part of an an American based enterprise that has sales of about $15 billion a year. It apparently cut down a tree with a bald eagle nest, an act which she did not like and which she filmed. Here’s her video.
Here’s Nextera’s Statement of Claim, which required the efforts of three McCarthy’s lawyers to come up with a very long and fulsome list of allegations involving “Offending Material” under the the Trade-marks, Copyright, and Competition Acts and various common law torts including “common-law trade libel”, and one I’ve never heard of, namely “appropriating an insignia in which the Plaintiff has a proprietary interest.” .
As Ezra suggests, this could be another Erin Brockovich story. Moreover, Nextera is likely going to learn the lessons of the Streisand effect, which is that trying to suppress a discussion on the internet usually just draws more attention to it.
Billion dollar wind company, Nextera, sues activist Esther Wrightman, Kerwood, Ontario (Bornish project). Esther had the temerity to satirize the Nextera logo, using the term “Nexterror”, and also refused to remove a video depicting the brutal removal of an active eagles nest permitted literally “over the weekend.”
According to Jim Wiegand, a specialist in bird biology and wind turbine bird kills:
“Nobody has a history of killing eagles like the wind energy company Nextera. So if you were an eagle it would make perfect sense that their turbines would be terrifying. If you were an eagle minding your own business and had your wing severed from a slashing blade, knowing you were going to die, this would certainly seem like an act of terror. Thousands of eagles have died this way. If you had just fledged your offspring and while they were learning to hunt, had them butchered by nearby turbines, this would also seem to be terrifying. The charity that Nextera wants to donate any settlement funds to should come out and say they want no part in any of this. I think a better idea would be for Nextera to donate any settlement funds to a truly independent Wildlife Biologist, for proper wind turbine mortality and cumulative impact studies.”
Did Nextera anticipate the flurry of articles and media interest that has occurred by suing Rock Garden specialist, and anti-wind activist, Esther Wrightman? And what is the subtext to the 32 Billion (Market Capitalization) company (with numerous paid lobbyists), lawsuit that on the surface incorrectly mentions being called “terrorists” by the blogger, Wrightman, and an antipathy for satirical use of its logo? (Wrightman did not use the word terrorists, but merely changed the logo to “Nexterror,” which could be read as Terror, or Error. This satiric branding, in both shapes, it should be mentioned, has been used by many activists for some time now. Read article
Robert Bryce, The National Review
The Goliath of the wind-energy business is suing David. The defendant is Esther Wrightman, an activist and mother of two from the tiny town of Kerwood, Ontario, which sits roughly halfway between Detroit and Toronto.
Wrightman, 32, has angered the Florida-based NextEra Energy (market capitalization: $32 billion) by starting a couple of bare-bones websites, ontariowindresistance.org and mlwindaction.org, as well as a YouTube channel, which she uses to lampoon the company. In its lawsuit, filed on May 1, NextEra claims that Wrightman has misused its logo and libeled the company by calling it “NexTerror” and “NextError.” And while the company doesn’t specify the amount of damages it seeks from Wrightman, it says that it will donate any proceeds from the litigation to United Way.
NextEra owns some 10,000 megawatts of wind-generation capacity, or about one-sixth of all U.S. capacity. And the company is aggressively developing six new wind projects in Canada, one of which, the Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, aims to put 38 turbines just north of Wrightman’s home. (You can see her property and the surrounding land by going here.)
NextEra’s filing against Wrightman is a textbook case of a SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation. And it’s a particularly loathsome one as NextEra filed it in Ontario, the epicenter of the backlash against the encroaching sprawl of the 150-meter-high, noise-producing, bird-and-bat-killing, subsidy-dependent wind-energy sector. Read article
by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
Forget everything you’ve ever heard about industrial wind turbines. Forget about the fact that some people can’t sleep because of them. Or that they cause property devaluations by up to 50%. Or that they’re a blight on the rural landscape.
Forget about the fact that they make life unlivable for many autistic children. Or that many countries in the world are in the process of abandoning them. Or that they only operate less than 30% of the time and often when they’re not needed. Forget about the fact that they create virtually no jobs. Or that they seriously affect tourism. Or that they kill birds, bats and other wildlife.
Forget about the fact that they’re causing the destruction of valuable, productive farmland. Or that much of their profits go to U.S.-based corporations. Or that they cause tinnitus and other hearing disorders for many people. Forget about the fact that it will likely cost us hundreds of millions of dollars to tear them down in two decades or whenever they need to be decommissioned. Or that they’re driving a wedge between rural neighbours. Or that many people suffer headaches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea and other health disorders because of them. Read the rest of this entry
Environmental Registry – SUBMIT COMMENT Due July 6th
Description of Instrument:
This posting is for a proposed Renewable Energy Approval by wpd Napier Wind Incorporated, for the Napier Wind project, proposed to be located at 27904 Brown Road, Township of Adelaide Metcalfe, County of Middlesex, Ontario. This is a Class 4 wind facility with a total expected generation capacity of 4.1 megawatts (MW).
The proposed facility is considered to be a Class 4 wind facility under Ontario Regulation 359/09 (O. Reg. 359/09) Renewable Energy Approvals under Part V.0.1 of the Environmental Protection Act. Applications for Renewable Energy Approvals are required to be submitted in accordance with O. Reg. 359/09 for consideration for approval.
This proposal has been posted for a 45 day public review and comment period starting May 22, 2013. If you have any questions, or would like to submit your comments, please do so by July 06, 2013 to the individual listed under “Contact”. Additionally, you may submit your comments on-line. Read the rest of this entry
Sarnia Lambton Independent
Lambton Shores Council has joined dozens of municipalities which say they are ‘not willing hosts’ to industrial wind turbines. Municipalities have had little say in the planning of the projects since the province brought in the Green Energy Act. It overruled any local planning authority. At the time, then- Premier Dalton McGuinty said it would stop people from objecting to the projects simply because they didn’t want them in their backyards.
But since then, rural communities have organized lobbying groups trying to impress upon local government and the province there are health concerns associated with the industrial turbines even as big energy companies began planning projects around the province. In Lambton Shores, 267 of turbines will soon dot the landscape including two major projects by Suncor Energy (46 turbines), NextEra Energy’s Jericho project with 92 turbines.
Lambton Shores has been carefully pouring over the projects, hoping to offer comment to the Ministry of the Environment on areas where residents are have voiced concerned, such as how far the turbines are from homes, stray voltage, and the health effects from sound vibrations. Lambton Shores has asked for a moratorium on wind development until a health study by the federal government is complete, but so far the province hasn’t responded. Read article
Sarnia Lambton Independent
NextEra Energy is trying to ease fears about the fate of a pair of bald eagles near Parkhill. Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group is holding a “celebration” near the nest on Kerwood Road May 25 to bring awareness to the fact the eagles will be living within 187 meters of a substation and 800 meters of two wind turbines if the company goes ahead with its plans for the Bornish Wind project.
Muriel Blair of the Middlesex Lambton group is concerned. “It will displace the eagles, even the construction itself will displace them,” she says. “It’s the noise, it’s the vibration that displaces them.”
NextEra raised the ire of landowners, First Nations, environmentalist and anti-turbine activists this winter when it cut down an eagles nest in Haldimand County to make way for a project. Blair is worried that could happen again if the public isn’t aware of the birds, so the get-together was planned to raise awareness. Read article
Sarnia this Week
ST. CLAIR TOWNSHIP – St. Clair Township is not a willing host for wind turbines. That’s the declaration councillors made – unanimously – after a recent discussion to establish a by-law about where they can be placed within the municipality. Deputy Clerk and Coordinator of Planning Jeff Baranek made a presentation to council suggesting it adopt a by-law to establish building permit fees for industrial wind turbines.
“You can’t make revenue off building permit fees,” he said, “but you can ensure all costs… are harboured by the developer.” Baranek’s suggestion was a $10,000 fee per turbine plus $100 per metre to the highest point of the structure. He mentioned that some municipalities – most notably Bluewater – are issuing other fees, like a $220,000 decommissioning fee by that municipality, but such a cost was not among his recommendations. He did, however, suggest that council adopt a two-kilometre setback from any property line, which he said would essentially “sterilize” the township. Read article
Yesterday was a beautiful day at the Bald Eagle Celebration, for so many reasons. But at the very end of the day, as about a dozen of of us were packing up, someone yelled, “Hey, look up!”. One of the Bornish Eagles was flying overhead – he circled around us for about a minute, and then took off in the direction of the proposed NextEra Bornish wind project. Some things you just can’t put words to…. this was one of them.
An anti-wind group has appealed NextEra Energy Canada’s 60MW Bluewater wind project in Ontario. The Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group has asked the provincial environmental review tribunal to revoke a renewable energy approval granted in April. The opposition group claims the 40-turbine wind farm will cause serious harm to human health. Preliminary hearings will be held 4 and 28 of June. A full hearing is set for 2 July.
The Ontario Energy Board is conducting a written hearing for NextEra’s application to build interconnection facilities, which include a 23-kilometer 115kV transmission line. In the meantime, the Florida-based developer has filed suit seeking to overturn new bylaws enacted by Bluewater council. Developers would have to pay C$14,000 per turbine plus a refundable security deposit totaling C$420,000 per turbine to cover decommissioning and potential health and property damages and legal fees. Another appeal is underway against NextEra’s 72.9MW Bornish proposal. The tribunal has yet to set hearing dates. Both wind farms are designed with GE 1.6-100 turbines
The municipality will seek intervener status for Next Era’s leave to construct for the Goshen Wind Energy Centre. Since the municipality only had 10 days left to file for intervener status, Bluewater’s Chief Administrative Officer Steve McAuley, asked council how they wished to proceed with the leave to construct.
“We need to deal with this notice because they come fast and fierce. It’s the nature of the beast,” said McAuley at the meeting. McAuley suggested to council that they seek intervener status, so they can be informed of the comings and goings happening with the Ontario Energy Board and also ask for an oral hearing and to have their costs to be covered. The exact same thing council requested for Next Era’s previous leave to construct for the Bluewater Wind Energy Centre.
McAuley said that since the municipality had requested intervener status and an oral hearing with Next Era’s Bluewater Wind Energy Centre, council can expect similar results, including not being appointed costs and not receiving the oral hearing. Read article
Bentley flew the coop, and Chiarelli doesn’t deal with something he views as important as chicken shit, so he wrote this:
Gord Whitehead, Age Dispatch Focus
Was it a gesture of gratitude? A bald eagle circled overhead just as wind turbine protesters were wrapping up a Saturday afternoon community awareness ‘celebration’ aimed at sparing the rare bird’s nest from nearby electrical power developments.
“The day was very enjoyable, with good collective spirits shared,” said Esther Wrightman, spokesperson for the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group. “But to top it off, when we were packing up at 5 p.m., someone said, ‘look up!’. One of the Bornish eagles was circling right above us, for about a minute before he headed south, into the Bornish Wind Project area. Some things I just don’t have words for, and that was one of those moments.”
Wrightman estimated 200 persons dropped in during the all-afternoon May 25 event at West Williams Community Centre, southwest of Parkhill. Group members were joined by supporters from Toronto, Haldimand County, Goderich, Clinton, Delaware-Munsee and Kettle & Stony Point.
By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Ontario’s pledge to increase local control over large wind and solar farms is “a lot of smoke and mirrors,” says one Lambton County anti-wind activist. Marcelle Brooks, a rural Lambton Shores resident with the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group, dismissed Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s announcement Thursday that municipalities will have a greater role in where future large renewable energy projects locate.
“There’s not a lot of credibility here,” Brooks said. “Truly, did they change direction, or did they just put a new spin on it?” Chiarelli said Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) system for awarding renewable energy contracts will be replaced, for large projects over 500 kilowatts, with a new competitive process where the government says wind companies will be required to work with municipalities on locations and site requirements.
The change comes as a growing number of municipalities are declaring themselves unwilling hosts for wind farms, and some mayors are saying Ontario’s wind energy push is dividing their communities. The Liberals lost the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding, and other rural seats, in the last provincial election. Brooks said Thursday’s announcementsdoes nothing for residents opposed to projects that already have FIT contracts, including Nextera and Suncor’s proposals to build a total of nearly 140 turbines in Lambton Shores, Plympton-Wyoming and Warwick Township. Read article
London Free Press
Local politicians and leaders of community groups took turns Thursday piling on the Wynne government, saying new rules for wind farms fall far short of what’s needed. The rules, revealed by Sun Media this week and outlined Thursday by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, promise to increase consultation with affected municipalities.
“Unless we can get full veto, I just don’t know if it’s going to be very good for us,” Middlesex County Warden Brad Richards said. “Don’t do it halfway.”
The Liberals still have their work cut out for them in rural Ontario — where they were nearly wiped off the map in the 2011 election — because residents there are going to be “very, very suspicious” about the changes, said political scientist Peter Woolstencroft of the University of Waterloo. “People will question the commitment.” The best way to win over rural Ontario would be to give both sides — the province and municipalities — a veto over large projects, Woolstencroft said.
Many communities in Middlesex County already have wind farms, and more are planned.Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said municipalities will be consulted before major projects proceed. “It’s true that there’s not a veto power involved in this process, but we always have to balance the greater good with the local good,” Wynne said. “I hope it meets the needs of the municipality but we’re going to work on it.” Read article
About 50 protesters greeted Premier Kathleen Wynne when she arrived at the opening of the Goodwill One Tomato garden in Sarnia around 10 a.m. A combination of Save the Jail and STOP wind turbine demonstrators waving placards attempted to talk to the premier as she walked by. Wynne took the stage and began her opening remarks while protesters continued to yell “Hey, hey Liberals, you’re fired, you’re fired” and “Hey Wynne, you’re not listening.”
Mayor Mike Bradley stood at the podium and attempted to quiet the demonstrators during the opening ceremonies. “We appreciate dissent but we also appreciate respect,” he said. Wynne told the crowd that she had earlier told about 20 Queen Elizabeth II students who were serving fresh vegetables to the crowd of 200 that she appreciates freedom of expression. “I am working to address your concerns that have been raised,” she told the crowd. Read article