Harm, harrass or kill

Posted: September 18, 2015 at 8:53 am   /   by   /   comments (6)

Bill Mauro stood before a hastily assembled group of reporters and nature groups in May 2009. The MPP representing Thunder Bay–Atikokan was back home with money from Queen’s Park— $107,000 for the protection of species at risk in the area.

“People in our communities are concerned about the protection of species at risk and the development of best practices to ensure that we experience the economic benefits acquired through our natural resources while minimizing harm to natural habitats,” the MPP said.

The local press scribbled notes and filed stories about the caring and environmentally sensitive provincial government.

But Mauro had other worries that day. An industrial wind energy developer was planning to erect as many as 16 wind turbines on the escarpment forming the edge of his home town of Thunder Bay. Mauro strongly opposed the project, but the ambitious Liberal MPP was a member of Dalton McGuinty’s government, which at that moment was putting the finishing touches to the Green Energy Act (GEA)—the sweeping bit of egregious legislation that would obliterate many of the provincial safeguards standing in the way of the rapid escalation of industrial wind power in the province.

Mauro’s own government was pushing ahead with the industrialization of the rugged hillside near Thunder Bay that many in his community opposed because of environmental concerns. Now, the GEA had made that much easier.

Mauro worked behind the scenes with opposition groups including the Fort Williams First Nations, environmentalists and the concerned resident group, the Nor’Wester Escarpment Protection Committee. In 2011 he had good news to report. Linda Jeffrey, then Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, had just advised the developer the project was likely to “harm, harass or kill” peregrine falcons.

“I have serious concerns about the effect the proposed project could potentially have on the recovery of peregrine falcons in Ontario,” wrote Minister Linda Jeffrey. “I am not prepared to issue a permit at this time, nor do I understand how a permit could be issued for this site.”

Opponents to the project, including the mayor of Neebing, the community closest to the project, were thrilled.

“This is the best news I’ve heard about the project since becoming Mayor. I want to thank Bill Mauro for his hard work on this issue,” said Mayor Ziggy Polkowski.

But despite the setback, the wind developer pushed on, perhaps anticipating intervention from higher up the Queen’s Park food chain.

But Mauro wasn’t taking any chances. After he was re-elected in the fall of 2011, the MPP sought reassurance from his new cabinet colleagues. The MPP reached out to Environment Minister Jim Bradley and Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle asking them to not give the Toronto-based company a permit to erect the turbines.

Finally, in July 2013, the Ontario Power Authority officially scrapped the project. Mauro stayed out of the limelight that day.

“My position on the project has been publicly known for a very long time,” was all Mauro would say to the CBC reporter.

Today Bill Mauro is Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry—appointed in June last year. He moved into the office more than a year after his department had issued a permit to a wind developer freeing them to “harm, harass and kill” Blanding’s turtles at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.

Mauro might have hoped to dodge this issue—after all the permit was granted before he became minister. But that cover is now gone.

Last week, his ministry’s own turtle expert revealed he had warned his superiors in the department that the project would risk high mortality to the Blanding’s turtle—a threatened species under the province’s Endangered Species Act.

Now the ball is solidly in Mauro’s court.

The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry worked hard as an MPP to protect his community and the species at risk in his region’s environment against the prevailing winds blowing in his party.

So questions arise: Will he apply a different standard now that he is the minister? Will he act to protect species at risk that aren’t in the Thunder Bay-Atikokan region? Will he move to restore the credibility of his department with regard to endangered species?

As Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro has the power to revoke the “harm, harass and kill” permits his department granted to developers of industrial wind turbine projects. The minister can no longer hide behind the pretense that these endangered species will be better off. He knows it is a lie. And now everyone else does too.

The Minister’s next move will provide a clear signal as to whether he is guided by his own beliefs and principles, or simply there to follow orders.



Comments (6)

  • September 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm Jim Wiegand - Wildlife Biologist

    @ Dawn Buzza………..If you give up the bad guys win. I would also advise you or anyone else that deals with these people show them no more respect than an unrepentant criminal.

  • September 19, 2015 at 1:01 pm Dawn Buzza

    This news distresses me immensely. What are ordinary Canadians supposed to do up against tyrants and bullies with money that the government wants. Hopeless helpless

  • September 19, 2015 at 12:09 pm Jim Wiegand - Wildlife Biologist

    The wind industry and its parasitic supporters rig nearly everything. This rigging includes the hundreds of my fact filled comments that have been deleted from wind energy articles. It is also not science or ethical when Scientific American a company affiliated with the textbook publishing (Nature Publishing Group NPG), deletes dozens of my comments with scientific facts for readers pertaining to wind energy impacts.

    For decades the wind industry has been hiring fake experts, and throwing money at organizations, media outlets and politicians. But the most insidious aspect of this turbine invasion is that this industry is knowingly selling a non-solution for society’s energy needs and marketing their nonsense with smoke up everybody’s a** about how these green monsters can magically fix climate.

    The truth is that this terrible industry rigs nearly everything. For decades they have been hiring fake experts, and throwing money at organizations, media outlets and politicians. But the most insidious aspect of this turbine invasion is that this industry is knowingly selling a non-solution for society’s energy needs and marketing their nonsense with smoke up everybody’s a** about how these green monsters can magically fix climate.
    Since 1985 this industry has not conducted a single scientifically sound turbine mortality study. About a year and a half ago in a response to one of my article comments I asked John M. Anderson, Senior Director of Siting Policy for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) to produce just one honest wind turbine mortality study. He never answered me because he could not produce any.
    If Mr. Anderson ever produces one I will show everyone how it was rigged with methodology to hide carcasses. If he or anyone else claims they are all scientific or honest I can point out multiple flaws and point out the methodology used to hide carcasses in every one of them. In other words they are not telling the truth.

    It is also impossible to fairly mitigate turbine impacts when this industry is rigging their studies yet this fraud has been going on with every wind project.

    On a similar note, people across America are currently outraged that nuclear inspectors must wait 24 days before visiting any place in Iran that is suspected of being an Iranian nuclear site because this time frame allows Iran to rig everything before inspectors arrive. Well folks, why do you think search intervals with the wind industry’s mortality studies extend out to as many as 90 days and employees are allowed to pick up bodies during studies? This allows time for evidence to disappear and your bogus Ministry approves these fraudulent studies.

    Not one person or any government agency should believe a single word coming from the mouths of this industry or it supporters.

    • October 11, 2015 at 4:28 pm lilli

      @Jim Wiegand – Wildlife Biologist…..Jim, have you considered a blog of your own where no one can delete your comments? Your information should be widely available to everyone.

  • September 19, 2015 at 11:30 am Debbie Barrett

    On August 24, 2015 Honourable Bill Mauro issued an overall benefit permit to allow the destruction of habitat for grassland nesting birds – Bob-o-link, Eastern Meadowlark, and Whip-poor-will on Amherst Island.

    In an unprecedented partnership Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, Kingston Field Naturalists, and the American Bird Conservancy issued a request to the Premier to revoke project approval of the proposal for wind turbines on the Island and to revoke the overall benefit permit issued by the Minister.

    All of Amherst Island is an Important Bird Area on the Atlantic migratory flyway with over 20 species at risk, up to 11 species of Owls in winter, and a refuge for wintering raptors.

    As Margaret Atwood said so well “Amherst Island is the wrong place, the very wrong place for wind turbines”.

    The Association to Protect Amherst Island has appealed to the Premier to direct the IESO to cancel the project contract in the same way as the Horizon project in Mr. Mauro’s Thunder Bay Atikokan riding was cancelled.

  • September 19, 2015 at 11:08 am Maryann

    Bill Mauro also recently approved a wind turbine project on Amherst Island, right across from Ostrander Point. Amherst Island has 34 species-at-risk, threatened and endangered, including Blanding’s Turtles, Meadowlarks, Whippoorwills, Bobolinks, Short-eared owls, Barn Swallows, etc. Mr. Mauro seems to feel only the species in his riding are worthy of saving. How very sad.

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