Energy Probe is one of Canada’s oldest environmental organizations, with a history of accomplishments and a track record for accuracy and objectivity that has made us a trusted source for information worldwide. Few organizations are cited more often in the media or in the increasingly influential blogosphere. As seen in the nearby graph based on data from Amazon’s Alexa service, our foundation ranks #1 on various metrics when compared to other Canadian environmental organizations. To see the various measures, please click on the graph.
Since Energy Probe adopted its anti-nuclear position in the 1970s, hundreds of nuclear plants that were on Canada’s drawing boards have been cancelled. Not one new nuclear plant has been completed.
In line with Energy Probe’s long-standing demands, the Canadian government announces its interest in selling Atomic Energy of Canada’s nuclear reactor division, and the Ontario government indicates its interest in privatizing its holdings in its power holdings, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation. .
Energy Probe produces The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud: And Those Too Fearful to Do So (Richard Vigilante Books). This book soon tops the charts as the #1 environmental best seller in both Canada and the United States. In the U.S., the National Chamber of Commerce judges it as one of the 10 “Books That Drive the Debate” in 2008.
Energy Probe produces Toronto Sprawls: A History (University of Toronto Press). By analyzing the growth of Toronto over last 200 years, this book convincingly argues that sprawl has historically been the result of government actions designed to disperse the population, generally in aid of social policy.
2006- 1998 (to come)
In good part due to Energy Probe’s ongoing efforts, Ontario Hydro agreed to close seven more reactors (one was already closed in 1995).
During the fall hearings of the Ontario government’s Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Nuclear Affairs, Energy Probe argued that nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning liabilities should be responsibly funded. We prompted Environment Canada to investigate whether or not radioactive emissions are legally “toxic” to hon-human species. Due to our continuing efforts, that investigation promised to restrict emissions, especially from uranium mines and mills. In direct response to our critiques, the Atomic Energy Control Board agreed that radioactive emissions to the environment – not just doses received by humans – should be kept “as low as reasonably achievable” – something unprecedented in nuclear regulation.
Our efforts to avert the irreversible burial of radioactive wastes bore fruit in another arena. In mid-October, the federal government and the town of Deep River, Ontario announced that they would stop trying to build a repository near Deep River to contain the low-level radioactive wastes from Port Hope, Ontario. Instead, the federal government agreed to work with the town of Port Hope to stabilize the wastes in monitorable, retrievable form near Port Hope. (Earlier, the federal government had proposed burying the wastes irreversibly in deep caverns mined under Lake Ontario near Port Hope. After hearing arguments from Energy Probe, local environmentalists, Dr. Rosalie Bertell, and Dr. David Suzuki, Port Hope decided that it would not support that proposal.)
Consumers Gas agreed to reduce costs for homeowners and small businesses by $1.5 million dollars in response to Energy Probe’s evidence before the Ontario Energy Board showing that the meter reading costs for Consumers Gas were three to four times too high.
“Concern over the Ministry of the Environment and Energy’s decision to establish an interim Ontario Drinking Water Objective (ODWO) for the level of tritium in drinking water at 7,000 becquerels per litre (Bq/L) generated the most Applications for Review.
“These Applications were based on a public campaign by Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental group.
“Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that is known be carcinogenic. While tritium is found naturally in the environment, the majority of tritium in Lake Ontario is a by-product of nuclear reactor operations. The original ODWO was based on the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines for radionuclides.
“The Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards (ACES) conducted an independent public review of the standard established by MOEE’s Standards Development Branch for tritium in the water. The ACES review of a report developed by MOEE’s Standards Development Branch resulted in different recommendations concerning tritium levels in drinking water. MOEE recommended that an interim ODWO of 7,000 Bq/L be adopted but the ACES report recommended that tritium levels be set at 100 Bq/L and reduced to 20 Bq/L over the next five years. While the ACES report calculated the safe human exposure to tritium based on the lifetime exposure of an individual, the MOEE report was based on individual exposure over one year.
“The Review applicants believed that the decision by MOEE to implement the recommendations of an internally developed report rather than the review performed by an independent, scientific panel like ACES reflects a lack of stringent guidelines for radioactive carcinogens in Ontario.
— From Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s Annual Report 1994 – 1995, Opening The Doors to Better Environmental Decision Making
1994-1989 (to come)
In a remarkable 45-page report entitled The Eleventh Hour, the Federal Standing Committee on Environment and Forestry unanimously adopted several of Energy Probe’s positions regarding the hazards of nuclear waste storage and disposal, the value of renewable energy and conservation as alternatives to nuclear power, the need for regulatory reform, and the importance of public participation in debates about nuclear power. Energy Probe successfully influenced the Standing Committee’s conclusion that Canada should build no more nuclear reactors until it can satisfactorily dispose of radioactive wastes.
The natural gas monopoly in Ontario was broken up, following Energy Probe’s arguments to the Ontario Energy Board. Following the implementation of this reform, consumers in Ontario are free to purchase natural gas from any supplier, ushering in a new era in cost savings and energy efficiency.
In the course of Energy Probe’s challenge to the way the Atomic Energy Control Board conducts business, Energy Probe convinced the federal court to set an important legal precedent the recognition of the right of citizens’ groups to use the courts to force regulatory agencies into employing fair procedures when important public concerns are at stake.
Compensation for citizens’ groups intervening under Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act was first granted in 1982, to help Energy Probe pay for the expenses of expert witnesses who might otherwise have been unable to attend government hearings and testify in favour of the environment.
Ontario Hydro’s proposed construction of a special transmission line to facilitate the sale of coal-fired electricity to the U.S. an ill-advised deal that would have resulted in little economic gain but a significant increase in acid rain was cancelled after a tough fight led by Energy Probe.
Radiation safety standards were about to be relaxed in 1980, until Energy Probe and a handful of other intervenors provided critiques that convinced the Atomic Energy Control Board to tighten its proposed standards fourfold.
The Conserver Solution (Doubleday) is published, soon becoming a best seller and the bible of Canada’s environmental movement. Author Lawrence Solomon, an Energy Probe founder, is invited by the White House to be an advisor on its Presidential Task Force on Global Resources and the Environment (the Global 2000 Report).
Canada’s first radioactive cleanup of a contaminated town was ordered for Port Hope, Ontario, in 1975 after Energy Probe proved (and publicized) gross violations of safety standards.
Ontario Hydro’s massive expansion program was first challenged by us in 1974, primarily on economic and technical grounds. After years of pressing our position in isolation, opposition coalesced: both the Porter Commission and the Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Affairs accepted our forecasts over those of Ontario Hydro, which subsequently reduced its expansion program.
Key investigative work by Energy Probe and other environmental organizations led directly to the creation of the Berger Commission (also known as the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry), which otherwise might not have been convoked.