Will this project one day be called, “Mertz’s Lake Erie Folly?”
(Perhaps it already should be called this.)
December 9, 2021
Mr. Mark Naymik
1333 Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
I read with interest your article entitled “Lake Erie Wind Turbine Project Subject to Upcoming Ohio Supreme Court Hearing,” and I also watched the video that you provided. I have to say that this is the most comprehensive report that tries to be fair and balanced, out of all that I have seen on the LEEDCo Icebreaker project. All I have seen typically favors only LEEDCo Icebreaker proponents.
This letter and the enclosures are for your review, and they represent the thoughts of tens of thousands of Ohioans and citizens of other states and Canada, who are opposed to the Icebreaker project.
My own journey with the Icebreaker project started out with my attendance at a public meeting on the project on November 21, 2013 at Cleveland Public Library. At the time, proponents of LEEDCo were heavily pushing the project, and I made an inquiry as to whether or not they felt one of these wind turbines would snap like a toothpick, in one of the years when the lake was frozen over and submitting millions of pounds of pressure from the ice flows. My query was immediately challenged and called false by Lorry Wagner, President of LEEDCo at the time, and their attorney. I was accused of being a “plant,” not faithful to the project. As this alarmed me, from that point on, I tried to study and learn as much as I could from the information available in the public realm, regarding this proposed project, directly affecting Ohio’s gem, Lake Erie. Finally, in June of 2016, as the project gained more steam in the approval process, I put together a lot of information that I had gathered and started contacting important local state and federal leaders, to ask additional questions about this project. I also started working with several grassroots Ohio organizations opposed to the project as well.
As the case is coming up once again for final approval, and if you will bear with me, I wanted to take you through a number of outstanding issues and significant concerns surrounding OPSB Case # 16-1871-EL-BGN, Project Icebreaker Wind Facility, as presented by Norwegian company, Fred Olsen Renewables. The below asterisks and the enclosures that I have included with this letter, will hopefully provide you with more insight to this project, and why, at a minimum, more information and a referendum by Ohio citizens under a full vote should be considered, before this project is funded and approved.
Global Fresh Water Supply/Cleveland Water Crib
- According to most any study that you read, 97.5% of the Earth’s surface is salt water, which you cannot drink because you will die. 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh drinking water. 20% of the world’s fresh drinking water is located in the Great Lakes. Lake Erie today has 147 trillion gallons of fresh drinking water and supplies millions of U.S. citizens, Clevelanders, and other residents in the surrounding area with fresh drinking water. Many in the world today are saying that fresh water is the “new oil.” Our gem, Lake Erie, is the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world, and it should be protected and kept clean. The advocates for the industrial wind turbines in Lake Erie claim that this will be one of the world’s first freshwater wind farms. This begs the question: Why have all the other offshore wind projects worldwide been in saltwater, brackish water, or the ocean? The simple answer is because freshwater is that which people can drink, and they do not want to foul it up with hulking, bottom-piercing, rusting, inefficient and monstrous wind towers, which can be susceptible to problems that can ruin all of the supply of fresh drinking water, and wildlife habitats in the area in which they are placed. Also, salt water, with the exception of the water in northernmost seas, does not freeze. The fresh water in Lake Erie will freeze over, as it always does every couple of years, which will potentially snap these 500-foot wind turbine poles like toothpicks. Who will clean up this type of massive pollution, eyesore, and environmental disaster when this happens? The Icebreaker project itself calls for wind turbines to be 8 miles offshore of Cleveland in Lake Erie, and unfortunately, halfway out to the site, sits the City of Cleveland’s water intake crib. The Cleveland Water Crib provides 168 million gallons of drinking water to Cleveland residents and millions of Ohioans every day. That is approximately 11 million citizens a day. The Cleveland Water Crib is an impressive feat of civil engineering that was built to supply millions of Ohioans with fresh water from Lake Erie. The Water Crib project was built from 1896 to 1903, approximately 3.5 miles off Cleveland, Ohio and in Lake Erie. At the time, Lake Erie and the nearby shore ways and water intakes had been disastrously polluted by raw sewage, industrial waste, and garbage that was being dumped into Lake Erie during the late 19th century through the early 20th century. The original engineering feat of the Cleveland Water Crib solved this problem at the time.
Lake Erie Started the EPA/Messing with Toxic Sludge
- Today, Lake Erie is the shining example of the entire environmental movement in the United States. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire and signaled to the local community, the Ohio government, and the federal government that something should be done to finally clean up Lake Erie. From this disaster, emerged the Clean Water Act, and the creation of the EPA itself in the early 1970’s. All of the pollution from Cuyahoga River was sent out and placed in Lake Erie, and it is sitting at the bottom, at the point where the massive suction boxes will be slammed into the lakebed, churning up this toxic sludge of PCB’s, dioxins, mercury, methane gas, lead, magnesium, and God knows what other concentrations of toxic sludge, that is currently settled, and undisturbed, in what is called “The Dead Zone.” Once this dead zone area is disturbed, stirring up Lake Erie’s fresh water and sludge, what will that look like and how will it affect the current quality of fresh water in the lake today? This, with the turbines so close to the Cleveland Water Crib intake system.
- Recent bird studies in North America have shown alarming data that the number of birds is down by 29%, or 2.9 billion birds. These birds are missing since the last count in 1970. There is nothing in this study attributed to the now 63,000 industrial wind turbines in operation in North America. These monstrosities surely account for a portion of this avian slaughter. Rachel Carson’s prophetic call in her book, “Silent Spring,” has moved from pesticides and habitat loss for birds, to the “whoosh-whoosh” slaughter of birds, and the new public awareness that nature is vulnerable to human intervention, by the placement of these industrial wind turbines throughout the US and Canada today. According to the Nature Conservancy, the water basin of Lake Erie supports one of the largest bird migrations in North America, with millions of birds migrating every year. The 500-foot high, 300-foot blade industrial wind towers to be placed 8 miles out from the Cleveland shoreline, and spaced 20 miles apart off the shores of East Cleveland, Lakewood, Rocky River, and Bay Village, will create a 20-mile killing field for all species of birds, bats, and butterflies, that normally use this route for migration. AND – There can be no count for this slaughter, as these beautiful creatures, once killed, will simply sink to the bottom of Lake Erie, unaccounted for. The full scale of this project is for 1,200 or more industrial wind turbines, to be placed in Lake Erie, which will completely industrialize and destroy, to the point of extinction, the unique species of birds, bats, and butterflies, which cross Lake Erie on their migratory routes each year. Again, when LEEDCo was asked about birds, bats, and butterflies in their application for the project, a LEEDCo study estimates that 21-42 birds would be killed per year, due to the Icebreaker project. This is an outrageous statement, that in and of itself should disqualify this entire project.
- Wind turbines in Wood County, Ohio are already killing bald eagles, as recently as January 2020, which is under investigation by the ODNR. Killing bald eagles is against federal law, as the bald eagle is federally protected under the Eagle Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty, and the Lacey Act. The nesting habitats and populations of bald eagles along the north shore of Ohio is growing steadily. These great birds, a great symbol of America, will be wiped out completely by this 20-mile killing field set up by LEEDCo. I carry with me a strong love of birds that was instilled in me by my mother, Sandy Sullivan. Along with being a great philanthropist for youth education in Northeast Ohio, Sandy was a true birder, and she passed her love of birds to me in my youth. When I was 10 years old in the 1970’s, my mother and I found an almost dead abandoned baby robin in our driveway. Over the next 6 weeks, we raised the bird in a shoebox filled with straw in my bedroom, feeding it Alpo dog food from a medicine dropper. When the young robin grew feathers and was healthy enough to fly, we took him to the Cleveland Metroparks nature reserve, where he made a full recovery and was put back into the wild. Today, I live on the shores of Lake Erie, in Bay Village, Ohio, just west of Huntington Beach Metroparks area. In the spring of 2020, on the Bay Village shores of Lake Erie, right where the proposed Icebreaker will be sitting offshore, we have experienced a birding season my wife, Mary, and I have not seen in years. Along with the normal nesting of Sparrows, Robins, Goldfinch, Barn Swallows, Crows, Starlings, Doves, Blue Jays, Redwing Blackbirds, Downey Woodpeckers, Hummingbirds, Seagulls, Wood Ducks, Mallard Ducks, Canadian Geese, Loons, rare Kingfishers, Snow Geese, and big Whitetail Swallows. Lurking in the air above are the raptor species, including Redtail Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles, and for the first time, a pair of Ospreys, patrolling over the water and landmass. At night, the Great Horned Owl rules. This is just a sampling of the birds that will be massacred with the approval of this project.
Walleye Stocks/No Power Needed
- Another major issue surrounding the fresh water will be the severe stress put on the world’s largest stock of Walleye, Perch, and Steelhead Trout that thrive in Lake Erie today. The effects of this would be devastating, poisoning the freshwater fishing industry, creating inedible fish that have ingested the toxic sludge kicked up by these monstrous, hulking poles being slammed into the bottom of Lake Erie. First, six 500-foot poles, and then 1,200 in total. Can you imagine the environmental disaster? The other thing about this project, Mark, is that Ohio citizens do not need additional power sources at this time. We have 2 of the largest clean, zero CO2-producing, emission-free nuclear power plants just miles from where the project is being considered. To the east is the Perry Nuclear Power Plant, and to the west is the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant. These 2 plants are 2 of the largest, clean, and green nuclear power plants in North America, producing 776 GWH and 858 GWH of clean, storable, reliable energy for millions of Ohioans and other U.S. residents in the surrounding states today. Newsflash: This is clean, green energy with zero emissions. Also, online, due to fracking, are reliable, abundant, and affordable sources of natural gas, for all Ohioans to use as energy. We do not need the power.
Submerged Land Lease/Local Support for 1,200 Wind Turbines/Conflict of Interest?
- LEEDCo and Icebreaker have already been granted a submerged land lease by the State of Ohio and the ODNR for a period of 50 years, to put industrial wind turbines on the bottom of our Lake Erie. This lease agreement was initially approved by the ODNR in 2014, and was reapproved, amended, and signed by Mary Mertz, Director of the ODNR, on December 30, 2019. AND, to put industrial wind turbines on the bottom of Lake Erie, for 50 years, the price, going to the citizens and State of Ohio, the owners of the lakebed through the Ohio Public Trust Doctrine, is: Roughly $7,900 per industrial wind turbine, per year. That’s it! One day, the legacy of the destruction of Lake Erie will be referred to as the ODNR’s or Mertz’s Lake Erie Folly, the beginning of the complete industrialization and destruction of our natural gem, Lake Erie. Two of the project’s biggest proponents include Cleveland Foundation President and CEO, Ron Richards, who, upon his arrival in Cleveland, looked directly at Lake Erie and thought, what a great “fixed asset.” We could use the lake for a new electrical grid, powered by industrial wind power. At a ceremony where she was accepting a $40M DOE grant for the project, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said that it was the beginning of a new wind powered energy grid, along the Southern shores of the Great Lakes, from Buffalo to Toledo initially, but then extending into Canada and all points, as well. Thus, these 2 leaders, Richards and Kaptur, do not represent the people, but instead their own interests, with the Cleveland Foundation itself donating $4M for the project, with Ron Richards sitting as LEEDCo’s Chairman, and at the same time, President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation. Perhaps you could investigate this, Mark, to determine any possible conflict of interest there. Richards wants to see thousands of lake-based wind turbines as an environmental asset, replacing coal burning power plants, but he makes no mention as to the impact of industrializing Lake Erie, or what happens to the birds, bats, and butterflies, and their surrounding habitats. There is also no explanation as to how this vision fits into the Ohio Public Trust Doctrine, purporting Lake Erie to be for the use of the citizens of Ohio. LEEDCo has now turned into a private/public partnership, which apparently is now going to be bought by Fred Olsen Renewables, once LEEDCo and Icebreaker receive the green light to proceed. With this purchase, the Lake Erie Submerged Land Lease, granted by the Mertz ODNR, will transfer to Fred Olsen Renewables, or any other developer out there globally who wants to own the rights to the bottom of our gem, Lake Erie. How is this possible? AND, who are the LEEDCo shareholders? How much money will the LEEDCo shareholders receive for the sale of their PPP? The LEEDCo PPP becomes the doorway for the developers to enter into, to secure the industrial development of Lake Erie. Is this an open bid for 50-year development rights, for the bottom of Lake Erie? AND, will any LEEDCo shareholders recuse themselves of any conflicts of interest, on any sale of the PPP? A lot of big issues to unpack here, Mark.
Ohio Public Trust Doctrine
- This project seems to violate the letter of the law of the Ohio Public Trust Doctrine, as it applies to submerged Lake Erie lands in Ohio. Lake Erie is arguably Ohio’s greatest natural resource, and it is vitally important to Ohio’s economy. The drinking water, commercial shipping, fishing, transportation, and the billions of dollars a year attributed to Lake Erie tourism, are all rights in and to the waters of Lake Erie, and the underlying lakebed, which are restricted by a common law principal known as the Public Trust Doctrine. Essentially, the Public Trust Doctrine reserves rights for the submerged land of Lake Erie, for public use and enjoyment, such as navigation, commerce, fishing, and recreation. In Ohio, these rights are protected, determined, and enforced under Chapter 15 of the Ohio Revised Code, and in accordance with the tenants under the Public Trust Doctrine, which state that the literal owners have rights to the reasonable use of the waters of Lake Erie, in front of or flowing past lands for the purposes of incidental use and enjoyment. This project surely pierces the Ohio Public Trust Doctrine, providing a 20-mile use in total of the lake and lakebed, along the shores of Lake Erie that will dramatically affect tourism, swimming, fishing, drinking water, birdwatching, and the destruction of local wildlife within this area, with no vote, and no voice from the public at all on this matter. This is no “small demonstration project.” It will be the size of the Cleveland skyline.
Petition Against Icebreaker/Mono Bucket/Blight
- Your article, Mark, and really, the point from the media, and from the proponents of this project make it sound like there is only 1 person against this project, Sue Dempsey, who is a great advocate of putting a stop to this project. She is surely one along with other groups, opposing this through the courts. There are other unreported grass roots efforts. For example, on April 27, 2020, ODNR Director Mary Mertz and her fellow Board Members, along with Governor DeWine, received a 170-page petition, containing 6,729 signatures from Ohioans and Americans, signatures that were gathered over the past 3 years, to stop the construction of the Icebreaker Wind Facility, and to demand that an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) be performed. These signatures were gathered from the website: https://www.saveourbeautifullake.org/, and also collected face-to-face at the Cedar Point Boat Show, in 2019. Also enclosed for you, Mark, is a copy of the petition showing these signatures. The main concern was that the project poised to be granted to billionaire Norwegian developer, Fred Olsen Renewables, using their mono bucket construction method, in setting of the wind turbines into the lakebed of Lake Erie. You should take note of Fred Olsen’s recent failure of his mono bucket method, on a demonstration project in the German Norse Sea, in March of 2020. They are going to use this method with Lake Erie as a guinea pig, knowing that this mono bucket procedure has been cancelled, on other projects worldwide. Fred Olsen Renewables proposes the untested use of the mono bucket securing process, at the bottom of Lake Erie, through what has been over 100 years of settled environmental waste, sludge, PCB’s, and poisonous toxins, when disturbed, these things will end up in the Cleveland Water Crib. The LEEDCo permit application should be withdrawn for this reason alone. This petition of 6,729 Ohioans and US citizens signing up against this project, shows that the issue of saving Lake Erie, should be put out as a referendum, for the voters of Ohio to decide. We sent this information to Cleveland.com, lead editor, Elizabeth Sullivan, and the entire group over there. They have never printed or included in internet versions, any article or opinion piece that is anti-LEEDCo or Icebreaker. Their view is that killing bald eagles and all kinds of other birds and waterfowl, as well as Lake Erie water quality, is worth “free, green energy,” but clearly, with the destruction of Lake Erie, there is nothing free about this project. Blight is one of the major reasons that offshore windfarms have been rejected near major cities and in fresh water, as well as saltwater. These 500-foot monstrosities will feature towering flashing red lights, which will obliterate any stargazing, and beautiful nighttime views of Lake Erie that now exist over Cleveland. This “small project” will be as big as the Cleveland skyline itself. There are currently many states in America and local citizens who have understood the potential disastrous implications of windfarms early on and have acted against them. For example, the “clean green” State of Vermont, one of the world’s most environmentally friendly states, has rejected numerous wind turbine farms for years because of the blight they cause on the landscape. In March 2015, The Northeastern Vermont Association and Regional Planning Commission, which covers 21% of the state’s land, voted in favor of a resolution to allow no further development of industrial scale wind turbines, throughout the entire state of Vermont, and surrounding region. Vermont state legislatures also introduced bills to ban large wind turbine projects completely. Many similar proposals are being introduced in states like Iowa, whose countryside is already terribly scarred, due to industrial wind turbines, to Maine, and small towns across the USA. In the Province of Ontario, Canada, there is a moratorium on the construction of wind turbines on the Canadian side of Lake Erie, and the entire Great Lakes offshore, due to environmental concerns. Also, New York state’s citizens are overwhelmingly opposed to wind turbines in Lake Erie, due to potential threats to fresh drinking water, fish, and wildlife habitats.
- On the jobs issue that Icebreaker will bring, the Unions have been duped. The proponents of this project claim that this project will create over 500 jobs and pump money into the local economy. The LEEDCo application with the NEPA Report of August 2017 states that the jobs for this project will only number 159 to construct the project, plus 9 more full-time jobs allotted to maintenance, after completion, for a total of 168 jobs, with the majority of the workers from Fred Olsen leaving for Denmark or Europe upon completion of the project. That leaves 9 full-time jobs, for maintenance positions. It is also interesting that the NEPA report, under water quality, indicates that there is expected to be “short-term” impact on local drinking water, and water supply. This, with all these huge poles and blades, made in China, and with the suction-cup method being used to slam into the bottom of Lake Erie’s toxic sludge, dead zone, and toxic blob area, which will find its way into the Cleveland Water Crib. The NEPA reference to water quality is the only one that I have seen from any public information on this project. The citizens need more information on this project.
Power Deal/No Break Even Ever
- Mark, you were told that the LEEDCo goal is to provide power for 7,000 homes. This is a pipedream, and down from 17,000 homes, which is what they claimed in 2016. Power from these industrial wind turbines will provide a 500% increase in energy costs, through an unpublished deal with Cleveland Public Power, who will initially provide this power to those who cannot afford it, the poor African Americans on the near East side, and the poor Latin Americans on the near West side of Cleveland. And once again, it will be mostly subsidized by Ohio taxpayers. So, at a starting cost of $170 million for the Icebreaker project, and over $28 million per wind turbine, paid for by taxpayer money from Ohioans and U.S. federal taxpayers, with the ultimate goal of having a total of 1,200 wind turbines, x $28 million, equals $33.6 billion. This project, based on the electricity produced and used, will NEVER EVER break even (don’t parrot the “wind is free” line). This will always be a loser, subsidized by the taxpayers, and destroying our gem Lake Erie in the process. Some will get rich here for sure, but not the citizens of Ohio, with a supposed reduction in power cost from wind.
- What would 1,200 500-foot towers do to the shipping lanes in Lake Erie, and the Great Lakes? No doubt it would decimate the shipping industry, and all the onshore ports and businesses associated with the Great Lakes shipping industry. You quote the port CEO, and LEEDCo-Icebreaker board member, Will Freeman, as saying the bird issue is a red herring. This is false. He says that he is a supporter of Icebreaker, but he does not explain how it is going to affect all the shipping lanes, his customers and the shippers who use the Cleveland Port to go in and out to various points on Lake Erie. How will the great iron ore ships navigate around these things, especially in stormy weather? The port of Cleveland itself will be made almost useless, after these things go in. This is no small project. It is as big as the Cleveland skyline. The pictures in the local PD representing this project are not one tenth the size of these things. Also, with Mr. Freeman sitting on the Board of LEEDCo, you think he is speaking for LEEDCo more than the Port of Cleveland, when supporting the project. Which hat are you wearing, Mr. Freemen?
Cleveland Air Show
- Additionally, Mark, are you a fan of the Cleveland Air Show, like the tens of thousands of Clevelanders who have watched the show over the years? Attached is a letter on the project that I sent to the Cleveland Air Show CEO, Board of Trustees, and friends. In the letter, I say with a heavy heart, as someone who has watched and enjoyed the Cleveland Air Show from when I was a child to now, as well as one who recognizes the millions of dollars that it brings to the city every year, that unfortunately, approval of the Icebreaker Wind Facility, with the 6 500-foot towers and blades the size of football fields, will, in effect, shut down the Cleveland Air Show for all future showings. There is no way that the Navy’s Blue Angels, or the Airforce’s Thunderbirds, will even go near these things, on a set flight path or otherwise. Icebreaker will doom the Cleveland Air Show, the memories of young and old Clevelanders, and the millions of dollars the event generates for the city each year. Another casualty for climate change, Mark?
Accountability/Civil Rights/OPSB Testimony
- So why does Cleveland get the honor of the first freshwater industrial wind farm? And why in Lake Erie, the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world today? I know why. It is because it has been done under the radar, and our local leaders, bureaucrats and politicians are selling us out in the name of green energy. Of course, when the accountability comes, after these things get smashed up by the lake ice flows and the savagery of lake storms, and the water goes foul, and the bird population gets decimated, these same proponents will run, hide, and take zero accountability, as is the way of the USA today. Which people who are such big proponents of this project will put their own careers at risk, with potential civil and criminal penalties associated with this misplaced green energy project, that portends an environmental disaster on a global scale? Democratic Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, expressed outrage at the Flint, Michigan water disaster in 2016, where 100,000 residents had to traverse across town 3 times a day to get fresh bottled water, in 5-gallon jugs, because the local government body let a taxpayer-funded decision happen, under the radar, which ruined Flint’s water supply virtually overnight. Candidate Clinton called this a civil rights issue. When Lake Erie is tainted and destroyed, from an industrial standpoint, will this also be a civil rights issue, demanding accountability? The full master plan of this project, for the full industrialization of Lake Erie, has been put forth by LEEDCo, Fred Olsen Renewables, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and various Ohio State Senators like Matt Dolan, who is running for U.S. Senate. Considering Lake Erie’s 147 trillion gallons of fresh drinking water, which, according to the Ohio Public Trust Doctrine, is for the exclusive use of millions of Ohioans for drinking, bathing, and recreational use, the impact here could be Flint, MI x 1000. We certainly do not want to be on the back end of that. In July of 2018, I testified against this project, Case #16-1871-EL-BGN, Icebreaker Wind Facility Application, at the Ohio Power Siting Board general public meeting, held in the main chambers at Cleveland City Hall. The OPSB members were supposed to be present to listen to the public regarding the pros and cons of the project. Not one OPSB member showed up. Not one board member. Instead, they sent two local magistrates to take dictation during the session. Also enclosed for your review is a copy of my testimony, and the follow-up letter I sent to then OPSB Chairman, Asim Haque. This is not only Sue Dempsey vs. the World and Icebreaker; there are tens of thousands of Ohio citizens and voters opposed to this project.
My overall point here, Mark, is that this project is not good for Cleveland, local citizens, the State of Ohio, and all the states and Canadian provinces that call Lake Erie home. Again, the very real and ironic part of the Icebreaker project is that 50 years ago, when the Cuyahoga River caught fire, it brought the nation the Clean Water Act, and the EPA itself, and now, in an ironic sick twist, the Ohio EPA, the ODNR, and the federal EPA are at the forefront of destroying Lake Erie all over again! This time in the name of clean, green energy, and the woke idea of the complete industrialization of Lake Erie itself.
This project must be stopped. Thank you for your consideration and for reporting the grassroots opposition to LEEDCo/Icebreaker, and your review of this letter and the enclosed, relevant attachments.
(The Iroquoian Indian Name for Lake Erie)
Bay Village, OH 44140