Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Wee Design Flaw

The BrightSource Energy plant, a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert, works on the principal of focusing sunlight on a bunch of towers full of water until the water boils and drives a series of steam powered generators.  Unfortunately, the reflected sunlight also focuses on the areas around the towers, and when flying animals like insects, bats and birds pass through that area, they spontaneously ignite into "streamers", to use the industry jargon.  Possibly as many as two a minute, or 120 an hour, or 2,880 a day, or 1,051,200 per year. So something's gone all fucked up.

And, if anyone has followed the story of this particular plant, they will know that California abused and/or ignored any number of its own enviro laws to get it up and running.

This is something that must be fixed.  The U.S. media coverage, thus far, can be seen hereGreen Power Plant Sends Flaming Avians Falling From Skies!!!  And it will continue, and expand, if for no other reason than interests opposed to renewable energy projects will make sure it does.

That is all.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Clean Coal Does Not Exist

...or at least is a deceptive term, according to the UK Advertising Standards Authority:

The ASA understood that the phrase "clean coal" was the term given to a branch of research and innovation aimed at reducing the environmental impact of using coal, such as filtering out particulates and preventing or neutralising the emission of waste gases. However, we also understood that this technology was not able to prevent CO2 from being emitted during the use of coal, relying instead on carbon capture and storage, and that although emissions such as sulphur dioxide were reduced, they were still produced. We also noted that the line immediately following this claim stated "We call it Advanced Energy for Life. Because clean, modern energy is the solution for better, longer and healthier lives" and considered that consumers were likely to assume that this referred to Peabody Energy's 'solution' of "clean coal". Although we noted that the ad stated "clean coal" technologies would "improve emissions", we considered that this was not sufficient to make clear the nature of this technology, particularly in the context of the word ”clean”. Notwithstanding the fact that "clean coal" had a meaning within the energy sector, we considered that without further information, and particularly when followed by another reference to "clean, modern energy", consumers were likely to interpret the word ”clean” as an absolute claim meaning that "clean coal" processes did not produce CO2 or other emissions. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading Advertising), and 11.1, 11.2 and 11.3 (Environmental Claims).

...which is interesting in light of the fact that "clean coal" has not been ruled out as a possible source of green energy here in Ontario.  Although you might argue that while the province might hypothetically approve some form of coal-with-carbon-capture facility, it isn't terribly likely.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Canadian Environment: Who Can Speak?

News of this paper  arrived on my twitter feed last evening, and one of the author's was kind enough to email me the entire thing.  It takes a look at the practical effect of the Candian  government's attempts to narrow who gets to participate in environmental assessments.  The results are profoundly unsurprising:
So, guess who typically benefits these narrowed criteria:
Of course, not everything has gone the government's way:
So there you have it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On King Horton's

Dear Mr. Horton,

Although I never drink the plonk that mascarades as regular joe at your outlets, and though your specialty donuts are nothing but sub-standard attempts to cash in on whatever aspect of "Canadianness" seems most exploitable at the moment, and though your iced-coffee is a caffeinated abortion,  and though the youth of today refer to your product as "Tim Horkin's" for very good reasons that I will not go into here, and though giving somebody a "flavour shot" is about as appetiszing as it sounds (please note: a blob of caramel dropped into lukewarm coffee in only technically a flavour), and though the plebian dorks that frequent your restaurant engage in conversations that consist entirely of Boy!  Look at all that snow, eh?, and though I know nothing about your new business partner other than that they are not the guys who make the rectangular burgers, I nevertheless wish you well in this new phase of your corporate existance.  May your coffee, in particular, out perform McD's one day.  And to all you folks relocating from Miami, Florida, Oakville is so called for its trees. Next to it is Milton (forming "Oakville-Milton") and it is named after some guy named Milton, who founded it.  Not John Milton, the guy who wrote Paradise Lost.  Just some other guy.  And no more beaches for you; in winter, the women of Oakville-Milton dress like sofas at a funeral home.

I hope you like  it there.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sometimes Scarborough Makes Me Proud

For example today,  nursing a beer in a pub in the heart of Ford Nation, I overheard several working-class types discussing the CPP.  They quite rightly observed that the current government's plan to raise the retirement age to 67 was really just a way of giving you a few more years to die before they had to pay you. Surprisingly enough, this was something they were OK with.  In fact, one fellow suggested that Canadian old people should have their walkers armed with .30 mm cannons and be parachuted into Iraq where they could fight ISIS and also thin out the herd of Canadian old people, thus freeing up ill-gotten loot so it might be distributed to the Millenial Generation, who might otherwise spend their entire adult lives flipping burgers at McDs.

Their reasoned discourse  brought a tear to my eye.

PS.  Actually, they didn't explicitly draw a connection between dropping old people on Iraq & helping the youth of today.  They just seemed to like the idea of throwing old people out of planes.  But, whether they realized or not, their views were objectively progressive.

Gruending On The CRA Audits

From his latest:

The government, however, has sent unmistakable signals that it wants a crackdown. Recent federal budgets have provided the CRA with an additional $13 million in special funding to undertake such audits at a time when the government was slashing the CRA’s budget by $250 million over three years, forcing the layoff of hundreds of auditors. Jim Flaherty, the former finance minister, issued a warning to charities in 2013. “If I were an environmental charity using federal money, tax-receipted money for political purposes, I would be cautious.” Others went considerably farther in their criticism and warnings. Joe Oliver, the natural resources minister, warned about the “radical agenda” of environmental groups, and former minister Peter Kent said the groups were “laundering” offshore funds to promote foreign interests.

As a side-note, a number folks including me got on Matt Guerney of The National Post for an error in one of his recent columns.  Matt claimed that several environmental groups had already been found guilty of abusing their charitable status but, if you note the last line, he was later driven to admit that this is not the case.  Of course, even when shown that he make a bugger-up on the facts, Matt's opinion of the issue (which might best be summarized as: Go CRA!  Kick them hippies!) remained unchanged.  As I noted below:

Friday, August 15, 2014

It Must Be Sad To Be A Part Of The Sad Sad Dying Media In The Hot Hazy Days Of Summer

...having to hack out words when you'd rather be boozing it up pool-side, being forced into sad sad stunts like this, or being forced to respond to them like they're at the same level as the discovery that Canada is secretly parachuting troops into Namibia, all the time sweating it out in an un-airconditioned newsroom while waiting for the Internet to come take your job.

It all just seems very sad.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Criminal Complaint Filed Against Ron Banerjee

...for acting up at Ford Fest.  Don't have details as yet, other than its been filed with 41 Division, but it is more than a rumour.  Will update when I hear more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ezra And The Duffster

Straight from Frank; Mike Duffy apparently paid him to write speeches:
Oddly enough, this makes me think better of Ezra; I always assumed that his money came entirely from dad.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Oldest Existing Map Of Britain, Dating From 1360, Resembles Giant Penis!

I'm not joking.  It does.  Fact of history.  Roughly the same color, too.

The Big Sh*t: What Darrell Bricker & John Ibbitson Have Taken

The vaunted Big Shift is indiscernible, with all evidence pointing in the opposite direction. It appears that the Canadian public are now moving to the centre and left and this may arguably be a response to increasing fatigue to being governed from the right when Canadians are actually moving in a more progressive direction.  Far from there being any apparent ascendance of the Conservatives as the new natural governing party, their reign appears to be closing and the recent surprising (though not to us) election of majority Liberal governments in Canada’s two largest provinces, may well be a harbinger of the end of the period of conservative political dominance in Canada.

Meanwhile, the triumphant Ontario Conservative Party, whose resounding election victory last June only Darrel Bricker's Ipsos Public Affairs predicted, will soon...Oh wait! They got their asses handed to them and are  making plans to elect a new loser...I mean leader...  

Anyway, we shouldn't get cocky, just like that guy says in Pacific Rim before he gets eaten by the giant Kaiju.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Rob Anders New Gig: Smitin' The Infidel For YOU, Bow River Alberta!

Some background on Rob's latest adventures here.

Friday, August 08, 2014

An Ominous Sign

Bit more here.

Justin At The Mosque

The CPC's new plan is to bash JT for being soft on terror; they've been on him for visiting, back in 2011, the  Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque, which had been flagged waaaayyy back in the 1990s as being possible incubator of Islamicist terror.  Their plan is very likely to backfire on them.

But all the muck stirring has kicked up a few interesting items.  For example, the government's conduit for the smear job was, no surprise, The Sun News Network.  That fact inspired Paul McLeod, Ottawa Bureau Chief for the Halifax Chronicle Herald, to draw a few connections between the network and the gov. that even I wasn't aware of:

The Sun brain trust is apparently made up by three key people. They are:

Kory Teneycke - This is the name everyone knows. Teneycke is a former director of communications for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Sun TV is said to be his brainchild. He’s the big boss there.

Matt Wolf - Sun’s executive producer of primetime programming. From 2008 to 2010 he served as issues advisor in the office of… Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Dennis Matthews - The director of marketing and brand development at Sun. From 2006 to 2010 he served as manager of advertising and staff director for, you guessed it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Before that he worked for Conservative MP Rona Ambrose and Harper again during his opposition days.

Now, when the smear first emerged folks were quick to recall Jason Kenney's visit to Jaffari Centre in 2013. But if we are looking for cheap-shots, we could also mention the CPC's dalliance with the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), a Pakistani political organization with a "reputation for violence, extortion and other criminal acts such as murder." What's interesting is that Harper continued to  court MQM-Canada until at least 2012.  He even addressed a delegation from the group back in 2011.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Wind Turbines And Groundwater Contamination In Ontario

Last week this warning appeared on Reddit Ontario, and later got picked up at Ontario Wind Resistance:
You notice that it names one G.W. Tomlinson, who's Senior Environmental Officer in the Guelph district office of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.  I emailed him, and he was kind enough to provide a somewhat less inflammatory account of the problem referenced.

I've reproduced it below, but its long and a bit technical and if you don't want to read it all then: 1) there has been no contamination yet but there IS a pretty small but not zero chance that flooding, for example, could wash contaminated water down the sides of the utility poles used on the sites mentioned and get into the bedrock aquifer, and; 2) it should all be fixed by next month.

For the longer version, over to Mr. Tomlinson:

As for the posted “warning” you are referencing from I can confirm that:

 Relatively short answer:

MOECC has a concern relative to the construction methods for the utility poles on this particular project, and has had the proponent for the project, (Dufferin Wind Power), (DWP), modify the construction methods for a substantial number of the poles in the project to prevent surface water from potentially using the caissons, (in this case a 1 m diameter steel casing), that the poles are mounted in, (in the ground), from becoming a conduit into the relatively shallow limestone bedrock that contains the potable water aquifer for the area. In fairness to everyone involved I have a hard time calling the instillation of the various poles as incorrect as neither DWP, or DWP’s consultants or this Ministry, (MOEE), or the Ontario Energy Board, (OEB) who actually gave the approval for the utility pole line picked up that it could become a potential pathway for surface water entering a bedrock aquifer. This type of potential pathway is just not something that is on anybody’s radar until you actually see the instillation and understand the engineering of the system. Having said all that this could be considered as just splitting hairs as MOECC feels that remedial work is necessary.  

In short is there a possibility that if the right circumstances come together at the same time that there could be a contamination pathway present? Yes, in some of the locations. Based on that MOECC has asked that remedial work be completed on what has become a substantial number of the poles in the project to prevent them from becoming a potential conduit. Is there, in the opinion of the Guelph District Office of the MOECC, an immediate potential for the contamination of all local wells in the area? No, however based on an abundance of caution it appears prudent to take action to prevent the utility poles in question from becoming a potential source of contamination for a limited number of nearby wells. The proponent, (DWP), was approached to take remedial action, proposed a plan which after some modification is currently being implemented with a target date for completion of 15 September, 2014.

 Slightly longer answer with more of the technical issues addressed:

1) Possible conduit:

In order to keep the utility poles standing with the anticipated loads they will be taking the various contractors constructing them in Melancthon Township and to a lesser extent in Amaranth Township have been forced to put down caissons into the relatively shallow limestone bedrock - the caissons are backfilled outside and inside with crushed rock with the pole is inside the caisson. Given that the caissons are in most cases in Melancthon Township bedded into the relatively shallow bedrock, and that a variable number of the sites are subject to the accumulation of surface water in and around the bases of the poles; and this is an agricultural area there is a small but nonetheless actual potential for surface water to travel to and possibly into the fractured limestone bedrock. That scenario is certainly concerning to MOECC.

2) Likelihood:

Once accepting that the potential is there for surface water to travel down the potential conduits, the issue is then will it cause a problem with, in this case, groundwater quality, (remembering that that primary source of potable water in that area is the aquifer contained in the relatively shallow limestone bedrock)? Once looking at the volumes of water involved, the amount of surface water that would be needed to travel down the caisson(s) would have to be extremely large to be able to adversely impact the quantities of water likely to be in the area in the aquifer. Having said all that, it is possible that it can happen, however looking at the construction details of the caissons, they are not particularly efficient pathways for large quantities of water.

3) What is being done:

After assessing the construction methodology of the utility pole bases and concluding that in a limited number of circumstances that the pole bases could cause a conduit for surface water down to or into the relatively shallow fractured limestone bedrock Dufferin Wind Power was approached by MOECC and asked to come up with a methodology and implementation plan to prevent the transmission of surface water down to and\or into the limestone bedrock formation in those potentially vulnerable locations. Dufferin Wind via it’s consultants Dillon Consulting proposed a plan whereby pole bases with a direct connection to or into the limestone bedrock, as well as those that have bases terminating within 2.5 m of the limestone bedrock will be sealed to prevent the transmission of surface water either through the caisson or along the outside of the caisson between it and the hole bored for it.

After discussions and modifications of the plan it has been accepted by MOECC and is now in the process of being implemented by Dufferin Wind and it’s contractors, (at this point none of the actual physical work has been started, however once the work commences it should be completed within a roughly 2 week period). The sealing program consists of the placement of a bentonite clay seal around the outside of the steel caisson to prevent surface water from traveling down the space between the outside of the hole and the caisson, as well as a bentonite clay seal being placed similarly inside the caisson to prevent surface water running down the inside of the caisson to the bedrock. Additionally the vulnerable pole locations will also have the local area around it sloped\landscaped such as to prevent the accumulation of surface water around the immediate area of the pole. All of the 216 poles in the project north of 89 Highway, (Melancthon Township), and 85 of the remaining 174 poles in the project south of 89 Highway, (Amaranth Township), (where the aquifer containing bedrock is deeper and protected by more overburden), will be sealed as described above. The sealing program is slated to be completed by 15 September, 2014.

 MOECC’s intention is to, as resources allow, monitor the implementation of the sealing program such that any delays and problems needing MOECC’s attention are addressed as quickly as possible and the program meets it’s stated completion date. It is MOECC’s understanding that the County of Dufferin will have consulting engineers acting for it also observing the implementation of the sealing program.

Please feel free to reproduce and circulate my response.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Chief Blair...Unchained

Seen at the bottom of Sue-Ann Levy's latest:

I posed a question while on a media panel at the last mayoral debate which stated Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has of late spent considerable money on lawsuits trying to muzzle members of the Police Services Board. This was incorrect and I apologize to the chief.

This, plus the dust-up with the dumber brother, suggests to me that the chief  is in the official "fuck you I'm retiring" phase of his personal PR strategy.  Let us hope he spends the next six or eight months cutting chunks out of the butt of everyone on council and in the newspapers who ever looked at him funny.  Keep things exciting.

Wind Energy In Ontario: The State Of Play

The controversy around Ontario's Green Energy Act has faded since the OLP won their majority.  Konrad Yakabuski can whine as much (and as inaccurately) as he wants, but Ontario anti-wind activists are basically left to pound sand for the next couple of years, losing in court and before the Ontario ERT and handing lawyer Eric Gillespie their hard-earned money for leading them into folly over and over again.  Furthermore, given that repealing the act was placed front and center of the Hudak Tories' disastrous election platform, I wouldn't be surprised if the next leader of that party doesn't just quietly file the whole issue away as "not helpful".

But there are still a few new twists to be added to the saga.  For example,  I've written about the various Ostrander Point decisions on numerous occasions. Originally, the wind farm there was shot down because its attendant road network might threaten the local population of Blanding's turtle.  This decision was later overturned, and that decision was in turn appealed.

While the appeal has not yet been heard, nevertheless  the bill for legal actions to date has come due for the appellants.  The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, who have led the charge against the project, have been ordered to pay the wind development company $50,000 all told.  Some of the factors considered in this decision:

1 Nature of the unsuccessful litigant – The PECFN and APPEC are not public advocacy groups pursuing a broad public policy mandate. As residents of Prince Edward County, they have a "direct and personal interest" in the outcome of the litigation.


5 Final consequences to the parties – While Ostrander is better suited to absorb costs associated with the litigation, that alone is not a reason to deny costs. One function of awarding costs is to ensure that all parties "consider the wisdom of pursuing litigation and understand that there are consequences for doing so".

It will be interesting to see what next steps are taken by the province's various anti-wind groups. Given that the court/ERT decisions have been going against them for years, and that political salvation in the form of a PCPO government ready to repeal the GEA is years away, if ever,  I wouldn't be surprised to see some fall-off in activity.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Libloggers Ascendant: Danielle Takacs For LPC Nominee

I should note that Danielle Takacs is running for the Liberal Party of Canada nomination up in Brant.  Danielle used to blog at  galloping around the golden horseshoe before deciding to jump into the political ring rather than merely snarking about it.  She is to be commended for that, as are the others of our ilk who have taken the same plunge.  Its a tough job, and there is no guarantee of success. Danielle certainly has my support.

PS.  I hear that Danielle is the only LPC potential in Brant, but that the party has been dragging its feet on a nomination meeting.  While nobody can doubt  the value of a star candidate, sometimes its better to go with the soldiers who are willing to fight for you today.