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NEWS: Obama to speed up approval of wind farms on the Great Lakes

CBC reports, “The Obama administration and five states have agreed to speed up approval of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes. There presently are no wind turbines in the lakes. Proposals have met fierce opposition from people who are worried the structures would ruin views and harm the environment. Under the deal, federal and state agencies will develop a plan to speed regulatory review of proposed offshore wind farms. Officials say the projects would have to meet safety and environmental standards.”

“States that signed the deal include Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania. Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin declined.”

In October 20111, the Globe and Mail reported, “The one company (Windstream Energy Inc.) that holds a signed contract to build a wind farm in the Great Lakes (specifically Lake Ontario) is going ahead with plans for the project, despite the ban on offshore wind development put in place by the Ontario government earlier this year. (The company) says it could begin construction at a proposed wind farm in Lake Ontario near Kingston as early as 2014, if the province lifts its ban soon. The 300-megawatt wind farm would have as many as 100 turbines, anchored in the lakebed five kilometres off shore.”

Ontario does not allow offshore wind turbines closer than five kilometres from the shore. The Ontario ministry of natural resources is currently conducting research projects to “better understand the potential effects of offshore wind-power development on a range of natural resource values” that may take up to three years to complete.

The Council of Canadians supports wind power as a sustainable and green energy alternative to the environmental harms associated with fossil fuels and hydroelectric power. We also recognize that there can be environmental implications that need to be fully considered and addressed before proceeding with any major project and that there are implications of private power generation situated in the Great Lakes commons.

The Council of Canadians is organizing a speaking tour to defend the Great Lakes as a commons, public trust and a protected bio-region. The tour stops now confirmed are: May 15 – Toronto; May 16 – Hamilton; May 17 – Thunder Bay; May 22 – Kingston; May 24 – Sarnia; May 28 – Tiny Township; May 29 – Owen Sound; and May 30 – London.

Some US groups are trying to put the Great Lakes on the agenda of the US presidential election taking place this November 6, 2012, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13565. Past campaign blogs on wind turbines in the Great Lakes can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=5479 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=11288.