Tag Archive | wind farm

Wind turbine opponents testify

Three years after the first wind turbine went up at Falmouth’s wastewater treatment facility, town residents had a message Tuesday for state legislators: A thorough, scientific study of how the devices affect the human body is long overdue.

More than two dozen people brought that sentiment to Beacon Hill at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Public Health, which had a full day of testimony on scores of bills relating to environmental health hazards. Four of the bills before the committee, including one by state Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, call for an investigation and study into the health effects from wind turbines.

Fairhaven resident Louise Barteau said she testified that she experienced health problems — pressure in her head, dizziness and nausea — when she rented an art studio on Arsene Street last year. Barteau said she no longer rents that property.

“What I experienced was very small in comparison to the people who live there,” she said, adding there are 701 Fairhaven homes within 3,000 feet of the turbines.

For Barry Funfar, the investigation can’t come soon enough. A Falmouth resident and neighbor of one of the town’s two turbines, Funfar said the local and state government’s inaction on what he believes are the turbines’ harmful effects is negligence. “Our government is knowingly hurting people,” he said, calling the area around the turbines “a toxic zone.”

Funfar said he is a Vietnam veteran and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from the conflict. After struggling to regain a sense of normalcy, the turbine issue has taken much of that away from him, he said.

“I spent 10 years in therapy to get my life back, only to have it taken away by these turbines,” Funfar said.

Peake said her bill was spurred, in part, by the May 21 defeat of a Falmouth ballot measure that would have authorized spending millions of dollars to remove the town’s two turbines, dubbed Wind 1 and Wind 2. Without funding to dismantle the 1.65-megawatt devices, selectmen and other town leaders are going back to the drawing board to determine how to balance residents’ health concerns with the town’s multimillion-dollar financial investment.

“They are betwixt and between in what to do,” Peake said Tuesday.

Many people described devastating health effects caused by the turbines. Frequent complaints from those who live near wind power generators Products include physical effects from the noise, flickering shadows of the turbine operation and changes in air pressure. Headaches, persistent trouble sleeping and anxiety were among the physical effects reported by the residents who testified Tuesday.

Lilli-Ann Green, a Wellfleet resident who has researched turbine operations all over the world, said the Massachusetts residents claiming ill effects aren’t alone. Even in allegedly wind-friendly countries in Europe, the same effects have been noted, she said.

“There are clusters of people all over the world who are living too close to wind turbines and getting sick,” she said.

A state-commissioned report, released in early 2012, found no link between turbine operation and the health effects reported by residents. But Green and others faulted the report for only reviewing other published works and for conducting no on-site reconnaissance of homes near Massachusetts turbines.

We need to have actual scientific work done

, not another literature review,” said Virginia Irvine with Wind Wise Massachusetts, a statewide wind turbine advocacy group.

Although the legislators on the joint committee offered no indication of when, or if, the turbine bills would move out of committee, they seemed to be a receptive audience. Malcolm Donald, a turbine abutter and critic, said he hopes this latest push to get action from the commonwealth will be a success.

“I was impressed. … Sometimes you testify at these things and they look like they’re going to fall asleep,” he said. “I think they were moved by what they heard. They realized it’s a real issue and something needs to be done.” Read the full story at scfwindturbine web.

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Wind farm seeks permit to avoid fines in case of eagle deaths

A wind farm being developed in Osage County has applied for federal bald eagle “take” permits for the deaths of up to three of the protected birds each year for at least five years.

Opponents of the permit, including conservationists and tribes in the area, say they aren’t against “green” energy investments. However, they are firmly against the placement of the planned 94-turbine wind farm, which is surrounded within five miles by several active bald eagle nests.

Wind Capital Group, a St. Louis-based energy organization, battled the Osage Nation – which has local interests in oil and gas – until late 2011 over the right to build the wind farm on land the tribe said was former hunting grounds and would be damaged by the project.

Tom Green, senior manager of project development for Wind Capital Group’s Osage Wind farm, said he’s eager to get the project built and confident that turbine construction will begin soon and finish next year.

“When I started in this business, I never imagined that people would think that wind was the environmental problem,” Green said.

Steve Sherrod, executive director of the Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville, said wind farms can lead to a multitude of environmental problems for eagles and ground animals.

Animals can mistake the moving shadows of wind turbines for predators, said Sherrod, whose organization helped rehabilitate the bald eagle population by raising eagles from hatchlings and releasing them into the wild.

Eagles may travel up to 50 miles between feeding area and nest, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and Sherrod said he’s opposed to the wind farm’s being so close to the eagles’ hunting grounds.

“If you look at one site, it’s not that big of a deal, but you look at all the sites … collectively, you’re looking at a huge impact,” he said.

According to the Department of Wildlife Conservation, 800 to 2,000 eagles inhabit Oklahoma each year, with peak numbers in January and February.

Sherrod said wind farms across the nation are being built in previously untouched areas and upset the ecosystem not just for eagles but for all wildlife.

The permit for Osage Wind – filed late last year – has not been approved, but Green said the government agency has been positive about its outcome and that the construction of turbines is still planned to start as soon as this summer.

Green said the company is working to protect eagles alongside the project as much as possible and that in the permit process it included plans to help the eagle population.

“The eagle permit is something that has been developed over the last several years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, environmental groups and outside agencies,” he said.

The killing of bald eagles – even incidentally as part of some other action – violates federal law. The acquisition of permits to kill them is voluntary and is taken as a precaution to avoid steep fines of up to $500,000 per offense under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Scott BigHorse, assistant principal chief of the Osage Nation, said that during the ongoing battle between the tribe and Wind Capital, it has wanted the business to compromise on the land use and project scope. He said the plans for the property began in 2007 but that little to no interaction took place with the tribe.

“These were our hunting grounds. It was our domain,” BigHorse said. “I don’t know why they didn’t come to the tribe. … We could have sat down at the table, … and we could have strategically placed these wind generator to where they are not so much in the path.”

BigHorse said the issue is also of high cultural significance to the tribe because of the importance of eagle feathers. The feathers are used in rituals “from when their (Indian children’s) little feet hit the ground to the time of their passing, when we put them in the ground.”

Mindless “green” indoctrination of children

Although fracking has been used for 60 years, in combination with deep horizontal drilling it has sent US oil and gas production sharply upward for the first time in decades, turned “imminent depletion” into another century of affordable petroleum, generated millions of jobs and billions of dollars in government revenues, kept home heating and electricity prices from skyrocketing in the face of EPA’s war on coal, brought a resurgence in US petrochemical and other industries, and helped reduce CO2 emissions (which should make Earth Guardians and other global warming true believers happy). It’s meant fewer oil imports, improved balance of trade, and more opportunities to lift more people out of poverty worldwide.

A recent IHS Global Insight report documents that, in the United States alone, fracking has already created 1.7 million new direct and indirect jobs, with the total likely to rise to 3 million jobs over the next eight years. It’s added $62 billion to federal and state treasuries, with that total expected to rise to $111 billion by 2020. And by 2035, it could inject over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues.

By contrast, $26 billion taken from taxpayers and given to wind, solar and biofuel energy projects via Department of Energy subsidies and loan guarantees since 2009 created only 2,298 permanent jobs, at a cost of $11.45 million per job, the Institute for Energy Research calculates, using DOE data.

If more of this new natural gas were devoted to generating electricity – instead of just backing up 40,000 US wind turbines – millions of birds and bats would not be slaughtered every year, and vital species would not be driven to the brink of extinction in wildlife habitats that have been blanketed by turbines.

The Earth Guardians ignore all of this, and claim hydraulic fracturing is poisoning our air and water.

The facts say otherwise. As the film FrackNation and numerous articles and reports have documented, there has never been a confirmed case of groundwater contamination due to fracking, despite numerous investigations by state agencies and the US Environmental Protection Agency. There is no evidence of air or people being poisoned, and companies continue to improve their technologies, to reduce methane leakage and employ more biodegradable and “kitchen cabinet” chemicals.

But the Earth Guardians still deliver outright falsehoods about fracking, by children to children, in public schools funded by taxpayer dollars. Perhaps this goes on because teachers and school administrators fail to recognize the potential harm, or are themselves devoted to promoting extreme environmentalist ideologies. Certainly they failed to exercise their responsibility and authority as educators to provide a balanced curriculum and avoid being used by groups with political agendas, to inculcate a new generation of Americans in perverse Hard Green dogmas that are harmful to wildlife, people and the environment.

Why is it that the Earth Guardians, Sierra Club and similar groups detest fracking? Maybe because this technology demolishes their Club of Rome claims that mankind is about to run out of petroleum – or because it means fossil fuels are again on the ascendency, making wind and solar even less viable and further demonstrating that wind energy is a far less sustainable energy resource than petroleum.

Even older students are vulnerable to being spoon-fed incorrect information. And student voters who are reluctant or too disinterested to seek truthful information can have a profound impact on U.S. elections and national policy.

More information about the program is available on the web site at www.scfwindturbine.com.

King Island’s wind turbine syndrome

It seems that the residents of King Island are being presented with what appears to be the most invidious choice – hosting a multi-billion dollar, 200 turbine wind farm, or preparing for an influx of up to 45,000 swingers (golfers, that is) in plus-fours and other doubtful clothing choices. Or they could choose both.

Each will have impacts on visual amenity and the local economy.  But there is growing concern that they won’t get the opportunity to get their facts rights because it seems that Tasmania’s main electricity company is being outmanoeuvred by a small, but well-resourced group of anti-wind campaigners.

Hydro Tasmania was forced on Tuesday to make a public intervention in the debate over the mooted $2 billion wind farm – which is getting increasing national media and industry attention – after a local committee released what it claimed to be a thorough economic analysis of the impact of the project.

The analysis, prepared by CH2MHill, a large global consultancy group, suggested that the 200 turbine, 600MW wind farm would deliver less economic benefit than two mooted luxury golf courses over a 20-year period. The extent of that extra benefit depended on the “growth scenarios” of golfer numbers.

Hydro Tasmania rushed out a statement damning the report, including the fact that the study did not even entertain the possibility that a wind farm and the golf courses could go hand in hand. Hydro CEO Roy Adair accused the report of “crystal ball-gazing” and labeled some of the assumptions, such as the projections of up to 20,000 annual visitors at one golf course and 25,000 at the other, to be over optimistic.

“In our opinion the latest report includes figures that don’t appear to stack up. It also has some incorrect assumptions about TasWind and some very optimistic forecasts,” he said. The study, which can be found here, was also criticised for not considering the economic benefits of port upgrades and NBN access that would go with the wind farm, and for downplaying the numbers of full-time employees at the wind farm, once operating, and where they would live.

Adair’s intervention, however,  betrays a growing concern that the TasWind proposal will not even get to first base – which was to be approval from the 1,500 or so islanders to go ahead with a $30 million feasibility study. A vote on that proposal will be held next week.

Hydro had hoped that a full-scale feasibility study would give careful analysis of the potential economic impacts and benefits, a study of where the wind farm could be located, and the potential impacts and benefits of that on the local community and businesses, including the mooted golf courses.

And, crucially, it would give time for careful reflection. As it is, emotions on the island are running hot. Pro-wind campaigners concede that the anti-wind faction has proven to be extremely resourceful, importing several noted anti-wind activists, hiring a Sydney PR firm well known for its support of controversial issues, and even taking control of social media (the King Island Facebook page is said to be administered by the anti-wind side).

It is clear that the tactics of the anti-wind group is to avoid further analysis and reflection, relying instead on a fear campaign about wind turbine syndrome. (The island has hosted several small turbines for many years and has had no documented complaints, until one mainland anti-wind campaigner arrived and complained on his first night of being overwhelmed by symptoms caused by a turbine 4kms away.)

The prospect of the islanders rejecting even a fact-finding mission and not looking at some of the options is exasperating some of the less-partisan members of the community, frustrated that decisions and positions were being taken on the first bits of information given to the islanders.

Read the full story at scfwindturbine web.