Federal MP Larry Miller is again wading into provincial politics by slamming Ontario’s Green Energy Act and supporting a call for a moratorium on wind farms pending a “proper” study into the health effects of giant turbines.
“I’ve just been inundated. Everywhere I go, people want to know my stand on the windmill issue,” the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Conservative MP said Friday in an interview.
Miller, who chairs Parliament’s rural caucus, said he decided to step into the contentious debate to support his provincial counterpart Bill Murdoch, who has called for a halt to wind turbine developments until an independent review is conducted into health-impact claims. The motion by the local Progressive Conservative MPP was defeated in 2009.
People living near giant turbines have reported a series of health effects, including sleep deprivation, headaches, ringing in the ears, anxiety, muscle and joint aches and earaches. Wind turbine critics say an independent health study is needed.
Ontario’s medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King, wrote a report in May that concludes, based on all available scientific research, there is no direct casual link between the noise generated by turbines and ill health. Grey Bruce medical officer of health, Dr. Hazel Lynn, has said further study is called for.
Andrew Morrison, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, said there is nothing stopping non-government groups from financing separate study.
“I’m not sure the science has changed much since May,” he said.
The Ministry of the Environment, Morrison said, recently hired a research chair to study the health effects of “renewable energy projects” over the next five years.
Aside from concerns over health impacts, Miller said his main beef with the Green Energy Act is that it strips local municipalities of the power to reject wind-farm proposals in their own communities.
“We all know that at least 75% of the power produced by wind farms in rural Ontario will be used in the GTA and other large cities to the south of us,” Miller wrote in a letter to The Sun Times.
“If (Premier Dalton) McGuinty is so hell-bent on providing Toronto with wind-generated power, I urge him to build a couple hundred wind turbines on the waterfront in plain view of those million-dollar condos that look out onto Lake Ontario. He could save hundreds of millions of dollars in transmission line costs, but more importantly, he would definitely hear the squeals of indignation from our urban cousins over the placements of turbines in ‘their’ backyard. Maybe then he would listen to the people of rural Ontario.”
Opponents of wind farms have been organizing and protesting in Grey-Bruce. A group recently demonstrated at a meeting in Meaford as International Power Canada representatives held an open house on a plan to erect 26 turbines near Silcote Corners.
Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, said he does not “buy for one second” the argument that the Green Energy Act is unfair because it strips municipalities of power.
He said the act replaced a “patchwork” of regulations with “objective, transparent” across-the-board rules.
“Now is the time to move forward” so the province can end its reliance on coal, he said.
Miller said he is not opposed to “the concept of green energy” or wind turbines, specifically, but “the public pushback on wind farm proposals cannot be ignored.”
He said the province also “cannot ignore” the support for a motion by Arran-Elderslie Coun. Mark Davis, which calls for a moratorium on wind farms until the health effect of turbines is studied. Sixty-seven municipalities have backed the motion.
“I’m sure there will be more,” Miller’s letter says.
This is not the first time Miller has waded into a provincial issue. In 2009, he wrote a letter to The Sun Times about improprieties at the Bluewater District School Board.
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