I got on the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise last night. We’ve brought the ship to Ontario to tour of the Great Lakes and to bring attention to the McGuinty government’s dirty electricity plan and to push for the green alternatives.
Our timing couldn’t be better. The Ontario Power Authority is set to release its final electricity plan this morning on behalf of the government. It’s not a plan Ontarians want. It prioritizes nuclear mega-projects, which take 10 – 15 years to build, puts off shutting down coal (in hope of nuclear mega-projects coming online) and caps the development of renewable energy to ensure there’s a need for all these expensive nuclear plants in 2025.
Put together behind closed doors, it’s also a plan that Ontarians have had no say in developing. Avoiding public discussion of nuclear power’s scandal ridden history and Ontario’s huge renewable energy potential seems to have been the government’s modus operendi over the past four years. Environment Minister Laurel Broten even went so for as to rewrite Ontario’s environmental assessment laws and exempt the government’s electricity plan from a full and public review.
Greenpeace’s hope is that Arctic Sunrise tour will help provoke the debate on energy’s future that we so badly need. It seems the powers that be still don’t want that debate.
The Ontario Provincial Police, the Durham Regional Police and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) boarded the ship when it arrived at the Welland Canal and served it with warning letters to stay away from OPG facilities.
The fact that OPP and Durham regional police saw it appropriate to bring OPG along for their visit makes me question the independence of our police forces.
I can see why the McGuinty government would be sensitive to attention to OPG’s facilities. In the last election, McGuinty committed to phasing out all coal plants by 2007. Promise broken. The McGuinty Liberals also told environmental groups they would not build new nuclear stations. The government has now started the environmental reviews to build eight new reactors. Another promise broken.
When I boarded the ship last night the zodiac I was on was tailed by police boats from Port Colburn to where the Arctic Sunrise was anchored. There, I found the ship to be surrounded by a Coast Guard vessel and police boats.
Welcome to the Ontario.
As I write this, a brisk breeze is coming across the deck of ship. These winds are one of renewable resources we want to promote on this tour. Studies show there is over 20,000 megawatts of offshore wind power potential on Lake Erie.
Until now the McGuinty government hasn’t even considered offshore wind development in its electricity plan. It even put a moratorium on offshore wind development on the Great Lakes.
Meanwhile, we’re told by our political leaders that we have no choice but to build nuclear plants and keep burning coal. They say we don’t have enough renewable energy resources to do without coal and nuclear power. They’re wrong. The offshore wind potential here on Lake Erie is just one of Ontario’s many untapped clean energy resources.
We need a meaningful public debate on our energy future. By the look of the OPP boats surrounding the ship, it seems the old guard doesn’t want us to have it.