The Cost of "Green" Energy

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Written by Jim Wortham
Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Jim Wortham.We are now in northern Quebec, our Stratum 69 which encompasses those areas north of the boreal and sandwiched in between Labrador to the east and the Hudson and James Bays to the west. This area is scarred by glaciers, leaving a broad rocky landscape characterized by thousands of small lakes and string bogs. This is caribou country and the herds traverse this landscape annually leaving many well-worn trails in the lichens. Here we expect to find “black and white” ducks including scoters, oldsquaw, goldeneyes, and mergansers, but this area is rich in black duck habitat as well.

In recent decades, significant portions of this area have been developed by hydro-electric projects, and the rushing rivers have been dammed, creating vast reservoirs characterized by much deeper water than occurs here naturally. These large, deep reservoirs remain frozen much longer into spring and the waterfowl nesting season than the natural waterbodies, rendering this habitat of marginal use to nesting or staging birds. Moreover, the water levels in these reservoirs are managed without consideration to waterfowl, eliminating any possibility of mitigation as a result of this loss of habitat.

Hydro-Quebec is presently developing additional projects to flood more of this landscape with even larger-scale operations on the engineering drawing boards. From an aviation perspective, this is problematic, as much of Hydro-Quebec-associated infrastructure, i.e., communications towers and thousands of miles of monster transmission lines, somehow do not show up on hazards and obstacles databases. More curious however, is that the thousands of square miles of flooded habitats have not found their way to available maps of this area, which continue to show them as natural habitat. This profitable ability for Hydro-Quebec to eliminate these nesting habitats outside of public scrutiny in the name of “green” energy leave most of the Canadian and American public in the dark.

Hydro-Quebec Reservoir frozen into June.

Hydro-Quebec Reservoir frozen into June. Photo by Jim Wortham, USFWS

Natural northern Quebec habitat.

Natural northern Quebec habitat. Photo by Jim Wortham, USFWS