A Lot of Loose Info
by Harvey Wrightman
You can see the “effects” of the never-ending days of the Environmental Review Tribunal appeals taking its toll on the Ministry of Environment and the Samsung lawyers. Yesterday in Cayuga, the MOE’s Frederika “Freddy” Rotter periodically lurches her whole body in a comic swing to gaze at the audience. At other times she fiddles with her Blackberry. She furtively chews her nails. It’s like watching a kid with stimulation overload.
Sarah Powell, Samsung counsel, will flip her glasses on and off, or her foot will almost enter orbit in a clonic spasm somewhere in the range of 200 Hz. On another occasion she was lifting one foot, then the other repeatedly in a trance-like movement.
Why all the worry? There’s a lot riding on this project. No one has control of it. The traditional Onkwehonwe are highlighting some serious deficiencies in the consultation process – to the point that both the MOE and Samsung state clearly that this hearing can NOT make any decisions on the consultation process. So, was that bit of admonishment for the ERT panel’s benefit? Certainly the Onkwehonwe’s Bill Monture and Lester Green were having no part of that scolding as they blew holes in the project documents submitted by the company. A modicum of real consultation with locals, especially the Onkwehonwe who know the “natural features” of the area so well, would have produced more accurate reports. Of course, like the elite mutts that seem to run all these “so-called, green energy” enterprises, they assume that local people know nothing and are merely a “nuisance” to the greater plans of the government/wind company coalition.
Some of the salient points made:
1) The 800 acre solar project is centred within the wind project development area, and the substation for the wind development is to be located within the fenced in solar parcel. But, the Onkwehonwe were told by ERT chairman Robert Wright, that the wind appeal could not include anything about the solar project. It was a separate case.
Both the wind and solar were presented to 6 Nations as one project, not 2 separate projects which is why the Onkwehonwe did not appeal the solar approval. The reality for ordinary citizens is: how many appeals can one afford the time, energy and money for, especially if they occur during the same period of time?
2) Lester Green found many discrepancies in the bird studies reports. The field survey notes for these often showed that very little field time was allotted to important species, sometimes only an hour or two of actual observation was involved. Worse were field reports with no specific logs of dates or time spent for observations. As Lester said, “loose work…as long as you word it in a correct manner, it’s OK the project can go ahead.”
- In addition, studies were conducted at inappropriate times of the day or in the wrong season. Thus the catch-phrase, “…nothing found in the study area” is used repeatedly even in known special habitats. As Lester simply said, “…look to the hunters and plant gatherers…there are certain times to find specific life forms.” One of the more “eye-brow-raising” examples was a survey for an amphibian, Jefferson’s salamander, which though it is terrestrial, breeds in vernal pools (so that no tadpole eating fish are present.) The survey was done in September – no sightings, no mitigation plan needed.
- The 2009 Hatch reports do mention eagle sightings, yet strangely, Stantec surveyors didn’t see any and wrote that eagles are absent from the study area.
- Which brings up the whole question of “the study area.” By some odd twist, it magically ends at the Grand River and somehow, and I’m not quite sure how you can ignore the River, but it is NOT considered to be a water body within 120m of the project., and neither are its numerous tributaries.
- Both Lester and Bill pointed out the absurdity of the “migration corridors” approach provided for migrating birds. “Air space” should be considered a natural heritage feature – part of bird habitat. Instead the Samsung treatment is more like a “turbine rodeo” or “shooting gallery” of hazards for the birds to navigate.
In summing up Lester made these points:
Re: so-called expert witness testimony, “In your way, if it (testimony) doesn’t have a doctor’s certificate attached with a bunch of letters, it’s not valid…(but) all the loose information in those thick volumes (of project documents) means absolutely nothing without the consent of the people.”
On the ultimate responsibility for the care of the land: “…these turbines are your idea, but are being put on our land…” in which the Onkwehonwe have a very great and personal interest.
Without any fanfare, Lester presented copies of the petition that 165 traditional Onkwehonwe signed. The same petition received by 6 Nations elected council in April. When asked for comment, neither Rotter nor Powell objected to the petition being submitted as “evidence”, but both of them questioned the “relevance” of the petition.
In a voice that communicated sincerity and a quiet confidence, Lester stated, “There are men and women waiting to see what is decided…There’s going to be men and women standing against this. We’re just following our laws, our ways, and our practices. You didn’t have our consent. It’s an insult. There’s no way to go back and revisit this.”