Falmouth wind turbines and sleep deprivation: A psychiatrist weighs in

William Hallstein, MD – September 13, 2013
Noise Impact on People Massachusetts
This letter, written by William Hallstein, MD, a practicing psychiatrist with over 40 years of experience, was delivered to the Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Health. Dr. Hallstein is also a resident of Falmouth Massachusetts. In his letter he explains the very real impact of the Falmouth turbines on human health.

Jed Goldstone, Chairman
Falmouth Board of Health

Subject: Falmouth wind turbines and sleep deprivation

Dear Mr. Goldstone:

In way of introduction I have been a Falmouth resident since 1970. I am a psychiatrist, my career working its way through its 44th year. Consultation/liaison psychiatry has been my primary setting. In this role one treats patients with combined physical and psychiatric illnesses in the general medical center population, be it medical, surgical or emergency units, in addition to the most severely psychiatrically ill patients admitted to locked psychiatric units and correctional institutions.
I am thoroughly acquainted with the turbine issues and neighbors who are affected. I have made it my business to spend significant amounts of time experiencing the turbine effects. I know exactly what they are describing and have experienced it.

Turning now to the topic of sleep interruption and deprivation. Sleep disturbance is not a trivial matter. Children with inadequate sleep perform poorly academically, emotionally and physically. Errors in judgement and accident rates increase with inadequate sleep and fatigue for everyone: athletes, truck drivers, ship operators , aircraft pilots and physicians. No one is exempt.

In the world of medicine illnesses of all varieties are destabilized by fatigue secondary to inadequate sleep. Diabetic blood sugars become labile, cardiac rhythms become irregular, migraines erupt and increase in intensity, tissue healing is retarded, and so forth, across the entire field of physical medicine. Psychiatric problems intensify and people decompensate. Mood disorders become more extreme and psychotic disorders more severe.

People with no previously identified psychiatric illness are destabilized by sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation experiments have repeatedly been terminated because test subjects become psychotic; they begin to hallucinate auditory and visual phenomena. They develop paranoid delusions. This all happens in the “normal” brain. Sleep deprivation has been used as an effective means of torture and a technique for extracting confessions.

I could work my way thru the presentation of 43 years of sleep deprivation observations, but that is more than the scope of this letter. I am writing because I have witnessed Town of Falmouth officials and members of other boards trivialize symptom reports from people living close to the wind turbines. I have witnessed attempts to discredit people who are being hurt by the turbines.

Sleep deprivation breaks down individual defenses and mimics a broad range of physical and mental illnesses. Let’s hope the Town of Falmouth comes to its senses and stops the abuse.

Sincerely,
William Hallstein, MD
Falmouth, MA 02540

UTILITY COMPANY SENTENCED IN WYOMING FOR KILLING PROTECTED BIRDS AT WIND PROJECTS

WASHINGTON – Duke Energy Renewables Inc., a subsidiary of Duke Energy Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Wyoming today to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) in connection with the deaths of protected birds, including golden eagles, at two of the company’s wind projects in Wyoming. This case represents the first ever criminal enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unpermitted avian takings at wind projects.

Under a plea agreement with the government, the company was sentenced to pay fines, restitution and community service totaling $1 million and was placed on probation for five years, during which it must implement an environmental compliance plan aimed at preventing bird deaths at the company’s four commercial wind projects in the state. The company is also required to apply for an Eagle Take Permit which, if granted, will provide a framework for minimizing and mitigating the deaths of golden eagles at the wind projects.

The charges stem from the discovery of 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds, including hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows by the company at its “Campbell Hill” and “Top of the World” wind projects in Converse County between 2009 and 2013. The two wind projects are comprised of 176 large wind turbines sited on private agricultural land.

According to the charges and other information presented in court, Duke Energy Renewables Inc. failed to make all reasonable efforts to build the projects in a way that would avoid the risk of avian deaths by collision with turbine blades, despite prior warnings about this issue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). However, the company cooperated with the USFWS investigation and has already implemented measures aimed at minimizing avian deaths at the sites.

“This case represents the first criminal conviction under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unlawful avian takings at wind projects,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “In this plea agreement, Duke Energy Renewables acknowledges that it constructed these wind projects in a manner it knew beforehand would likely result in avian deaths. To its credit, once the projects came on line and began causing avian deaths, Duke took steps to minimize the hazard, and with this plea agreement has committed to an extensive compliance plan to minimize bird deaths at its Wyoming facilities and to devote resources to eagle preservation and rehabilitation efforts.”

“The Service works cooperatively with companies that make all reasonable efforts to avoid killing migratory birds during design, construction and operation of industrial facilities,” said William Woody, Assistant Director for Law Enforcement of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “But we will continue to investigate and refer for prosecution cases in which companies – in any sector, including the wind industry – fail to comply with the laws that protect the public’s wildlife resources.”

More than 1,000 species of birds, including bald and golden eagles, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The MBTA, enacted in 1918, implements this country’s commitments under avian protection treaties with Great Britain (for Canada), Mexico, Japan and Russia. The MBTA provides a misdemeanor criminal sanction for the unpermitted taking of a listed species by any means and in any manner, regardless of fault. The maximum penalty for an unpermitted corporate taking under the MBTA is $15,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense, and five years’ probation.

According to papers filed with the court, commercial wind power projects can cause the deaths of federally protected birds in four primary ways: collision with wind turbines, collision with associated meteorological towers, collision with, or electrocution by, associated electrical power facilities, and nest abandonment or behavior avoidance from habitat modification. Collision and electrocution risks from power lines (collisions and electrocutions) and guyed structures (collision) have been known to the utility and communication industries for decades, and specific methods of minimizing and avoiding the risks have been developed, in conjunction with the USFWS. The USFWS issued its first interim guidance about how wind project developers could avoid impacts to wildlife from wind turbines in 2003, and replaced these with a “tiered” approach outlined in the Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines (2012 LBWEGs), developed with the wind industry starting in 2007 and released in final form by the USFWS on March 23, 2012. The Service also released Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance in April 2013 and strongly recommends that companies planning or operating wind power facilities in areas where eagles occur work with the agency to implement that guidance completely.

For wind projects, due diligence during the pre-construction stage—as described in the 2003 Interim Guidelines and tiers I through III in the 2012 LBWEGs—by surveying the wildlife present in the proposed project area, consulting with agency professionals, determining whether the risk to wildlife is too high to justify proceeding and, if not, carefully siting turbines so as to avoid and minimize the risk as much as possible, is critically important because, unlike electric distribution equipment and guyed towers, at the present time, no post-construction remedies, except “curtailment” (i.e., shut-down), have been developed that can “render safe” a wind turbine placed in a location of high avian collision risk. Other experimental measures to reduce prey, detect and deter avian proximity to turbines are being tested. In the western United States, golden eagles may be particularly susceptible to wind turbine blade collision by wind power facilities constructed in areas of high eagle use.

The $400,000 fine imposed in the case will be directed to the federally-administered North American Wetlands Conservation Fund. The company will also pay $100,000 in restitution to the State of Wyoming, and perform community service by making a $160,000 payment to the congressionally-chartered National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, designated for projects aimed at preserving golden eagles and increasing the understanding of ways to minimize and monitor interactions between eagles and commercial wind power facilities, as well as enhance eagle rehabilitation and conservation efforts in Wyoming. Duke Energy Renewables is also required to contribute $340,000 to a conservation fund for the purchase of land, or conservation easements on land, in Wyoming containing high-use golden eagle habitat, which will be preserved and managed for the benefit of that species. The company must implement a migratory bird compliance plan containing specific measures to avoid and minimize golden eagle and other avian wildlife mortalities at company’s four commercial wind projects in Wyoming.

According to papers filed with the court, Duke Energy Renewables will spend approximately $600,000 per year implementing the compliance plan. Within 24 months, the company must also apply to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a Programmatic Eagle Take Permit at each of the two wind projects cited in the case.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Senior Counsel Robert S. Anderson of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Conder of the District of Wyoming.

Reflections on Climate Change on the Anniversary of Super Storm Sandy

by Neil Frank and E. Calvin Beisner
November 20, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan and the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy should remind all of us of the tragic suffering that is part of living in the post-fall world, affected by both human sin and the divine curse (Genesis 3).

But is Rev. Darren A. Ferguson, of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Far Rockaway, NY, whose home and church Sandy destroyed, right to insist that “climate change” made Sandy stronger than it otherwise would have been?

Assume for a moment (though there is good reason to doubt it) that the world’s been warming rapidly and beyond the bounds of natural variability and that, as he put it, “we are the primary cause.” Does that entail that Sandy was more powerful because of it?

Contrary to Rev. Ferguson’s claims, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) denies that there is good evidence that global warming—manmade or not—causes greater frequency or intensity of hurricanes. In its 2012 special report on extreme weather events it said, “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.” In its just-released Fifth Assessment Report, it said, “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century …. No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin…. In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low.”

Nonetheless, it’s widely thought that even if global warming didn’t cause Sandy, it did make it worse—a stronger or bigger storm, or with storm surge exacerbated by global warming-driven sea level rise. What of those ideas?

Did higher sea level caused by global warming make Sandy’s storm surge more devastating? No. Land subsidence and natural sea level rise, both happening ever since the Ice Age, account for all of the apparent sea level rise at Battery Park in New York City.

In fact, as geoscientist David Middleton reports, Sandy’s “storm surge was likely surpassed in the New England hurricanes of 1635 and 1638” and “at least seven hurricanes of intensity sufficient to produce storm surge” greater than 3 meters “made landfall in southern New England in the past 700” years. All seven occurred prior to 1960—before manmade global warming. In 1821, at low tide and with sea level a foot lower than today, a Category 3 hurricane brought a 13.9-foot storm surge to New York City. The same storm today, hitting at high tide, as Sandy did, would have caused much greater flooding than Sandy did.

Was Sandy bigger or stronger because of global warming? In strength, Sandy never exceeded Category 3 (out of 5) and was actually no longer a hurricane but only a post-tropical storm when it made landfall at Atlantic City. The diameter of Sandy’s gale-force wind field was greater than any Atlantic hurricane in recorded history—but only by about 3%—and for this measure “recorded history” reaches back only to 1988.

Rev. Ferguson says those who disagree that manmade global warming was to blame for Sandy “would have trouble explaining the fact that in this New York City peninsula where I live and pastor a church, the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay had not met in over 50 years” before Sandy. But if they met 50 years ago, before any significant manmade global warming, why invoke it to explain their meeting last year?

While at the time those who blamed Sandy on global warming included a handful of climate scientists (Kevin Trenberth, whom Rev. Ferguson cites, plus Katharine Hayhoe and James Hansen, none of whom is a hurricane specialist), they also included nonscientists (Al Gore, Joe Romm, Bill McKibben, Chris Mooney, Roseann Barr, Michael Oppenheimer, Jennifer Granholm, Van Jones, Chris Matthews, Bill Clinton, Stephan Lewandowsky, and Michael Moore).

Although those who disagreed include a handful of what Rev. Ferguson calls (when they disagree with him) “know-it-all pundits, who lack any scientific credentials” (Limbaugh; UK Telegraph science writer Tom Chivers; New York Times environment blogger Andrew Revkin), most are scientists. Two, though not climate scientists, specialize in climate change (Norman Page, a consulting geologist; Eric Berger, science writer for the Houston Chronicle). Most are climate scientists (Martin Hoerling, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Roger Pielke Jr., University of Colorado; Karsten Brandt, Donnerwetter.de; Patrick Michaels, formerly University of Virginia, now Cato Institute; Judith Curry, Georgia Tech; Gerald North, Texas A&M; Roy Spencer, formerly NASA, now University of Alabama), and four are hurricane specialists (Chris Landsea and Stanley Goldenberg, National Hurricane Center; Ryan Maue, Florida State University; and William Gray, Colorado State University).

As NHC’s Goldenberg put it in an email to Dr. Beisner, “If someone says Sandy was stronger due to AGW, that goes against even the current hurricane climate studies which suggest that in the future, there could be a very slight increase in intensity for the stronger storms. … although Sandy was strong for that region, it was by no means among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes. As for increased flooding due to sea-level rise—firstly the total sea-level rise since the great 1938 Hurricane is only about 7 inches, and about 1/2 of that is due to land subsidence. Of the other several inches, some would certainly be due to natural climate fluctuations (especially the natural warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-1800’s) and if there is any contribution from AGW, it would be at the most on the order of a few inches. Compared to the contribution from the lunar high tide and the actual storm surge (together totaling 10–17.5 feet in the hardest hit regions), these few inches … are hardly significant.”

Rev. Ferguson claims “97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and we are the primary cause.” He says “Rush Limbaugh and other climate change deniers” “recklessly deny climate change because [doing so] confirms their ideology and advances their agenda.”

Although Dr. Beisner has read about forty-five books on the science of climate change, large parts of all five IPCC assessment reports, and thousands of articles on it over the past twenty-five years, and consults regularly with climate scientists, he’s not a climate scientist, so Rev. Ferguson can, as he does with others who disagree, write him off as one of the “know-it-all pundits, who lack any scientific credentials”—on condition that he write himself off as well. But he can’t write off Dr. Frank, for he is a Ph.D.’d meteorologist and former director of the National Hurricane Center.

What about Ferguson’s claim that “97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and we are the primary cause”?
Science isn’t about consensus, it’s about evidence and reasonable explanations.
Consensus among scientists has changed radically, and repeatedly, in the past—as, for instance, from nearly universal rejection to nearly universal acceptance of continental drift.
As Georgia Tech climatologist Dr. Judith Curry has shown, such “consensus” as there is among IPCC and other global warming true-believer scientists is worthless because it was intentionally constructed, not spontaneous.
The publication survey on which the 97% claim rests had such broad criteria (e.g., not specifying that people are the primary cause or that the warming was dangerous, let alone catastrophic) that it would have counted most critics of CAGW (catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming) as in agreement. As Dr. Roy W. Spencer, an award-winning NASA climate scientist and Cornwall Alliance Senior Fellow, put it recently on CNN, “I’m one of the 97%!” Both of us would be, too. In reality, while repeated attempts have been made to prove a consensus on dangerous, manmade global warming, none has succeeded—as if it would matter if they did (see 1 above).
In short, Rev. Ferguson is wrong to blame “climate change deniers” (the pejorative term meant to equate them, viciously, with Holocaust deniers) for global warming and to blame global warming for Sandy’s size, strength, and devastation.

If Rev. Ferguson is going to call natural disasters divine judgments, he should, as the Bible often does (e.g., Genesis 19; Exodus 7–14; Psalm 107:33–34; Isaiah 35:6–7; Jeremiah 14; Zephaniah 1:2–3), attribute them to sins clearly revealed in God’s law—worshiping false gods, idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath breaking, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, theft, false witness, and coveting (Exodus 20:1–17)—not burning fossil fuels to provide energy to lift billions out of poverty, disease, and premature death.

Rather than assigning blame, though, we would do better to reduce the risk of future catastrophes by eliminating policies, like government-funded flood insurance, that encourage construction in high-risk shoreline locations. What made Sandy and Haiyan so devastating was not their size and strength (many surpassed them) but where they struck: densely populated regions with vast amounts of property on vulnerable shorelines.

And when people are harmed, we should act compassionately: We should pray for and donate to their rapid recovery. We should pray that the Christians among them will come to understand, as they seek God in the midst of their suffering, how God works it for their good (Romans 8:28); that it is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to them (Romans 8:18); indeed, that “this slight momentary affliction is preparing for [them] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as [they] look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18). And we should pray that the unbelievers will become Christians, lest after this life they enter upon suffering that will make Sandy and Haiyan seem like paradise.

[A slightly modified version of this article was published in The Christian Post Tuesday, November 19, 2013.]

Neil Frank, Ph.D., a meteorologist, is former Director (1974–1987) of the National Hurricane Center, former Chief Meteorologist of Houston CBS affiliate KHOU-TV (1987–2008), and an evangelical Christian. E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., author of Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate, is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a coalition of evangelical theologians, pastors, ministry leaders, scientists, economists, policy experts, and committed laymen promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles.

Why Not to Regulate Carbon Dioxide Emissions

By Megan Toombs
November 13, 2013

In most of the Western world, it would be difficult to find someone who had not been told that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are bad. As a greenhouse gas, we are told, CO2 is bad because it causes global warming. Because of the dire predictions of environmentalists, regulations have been put in place to reduce our “carbon footprint.”

But what if CO2 were not harmful? What if it were beneficial?

CO2 is the building block of life. It is a key requirement for photosynthesis. Plants must have it to grow. The more CO2 in an environment, the healthier the plants.

According to a report published by the Science and Public Policy Institute, “Plant Productivity: Growth Response to CO2 When Coupled with Ozone,” CO2 actually reduces ozone absorption, which is harmful to plants, and so reduces damage to forests in locales with high levels of ozone pollution. The Austrian Forest Inventory Grid, for instance, registered seven times the “critical level of 10 ppm.h” of ozone. In an area with this level of ozone pollution, serious damage would be expected, but because of enhanced CO2 there was none.

According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s National Science Agency, foliage in desert areas studied in North America, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa increased eleven percent between 1982 and 2010 due to CO2 fertilization.

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to limit emissions that are considered pollution. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 2007 that the EPA could regulate CO2 as a pollutant if the EPA found it dangerous to humans. This led to stricter regulations on automobiles, and now the EPA has turned its sites on the coal industry. The EPA has created regulations so limiting that the ultimate consequence will be that no new coal power plants will be built, and existing plants will have to shut down. The consequences of such policy are devastating not just to those in the coal industry, and supporting industries, who need jobs, but also to those who rely on affordable electricity to live their lives and run their businesses.

Georgia is estimated to lose 480 jobs and Pennsylvania 380 jobs when coal plants are shut down. Eastern Kentucky alone has lost 6000 direct coal mining jobs. “For every one direct mining job lost, three other Kentuckians lose their livelihoods with the loss of indirect jobs.” Of course, this does not take into account the lost revenue of stores and other businesses in these areas that receive income from people employed, directly or indirectly, by the coal industry.

Studies show that CO2 fertilizes plants while blocking the negative impact of ozone pollution. Because of this, many scientists, like those at Principia Scientific, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change argue that CO2 is not a pollutant at all. Others, such as at the EPA, believe it is. In either case, reducing its emissions will cost jobs and higher electricity rates, reducing people’s prosperity and hence their health and longevity. Will the benefits exceed the costs? We think not.

CO2 is good for our world and should not be limited—certainly not at the price of jobs and economic prosperity.

More

Megan Toombs is an International Relations graduate of Houghton College and a contributing writer for the Cornwall Alliance.

Iberdola may lose right to operate Groton wind farm

New Hampshire site evaluation committee schedules hearings to consider suspension and possible revocation of project operating certificate

NEW HAMPSHIRE (November 5, 2013) -The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (‘SEC’) has announced hearings to determine whether to suspend and revoke the Certificate of Site and Facility granted Groton Wind LLC, a limited liability corporation wholly-owned and managed by Iberdrola Renewables, Inc. The 48-megawatt, 24 turbine wind energy facility constructed by Iberdrola was placed in service at the end of 2012.

Iberdrola’s Groton Wind has been cited in filings and SEC notices for the following alleged violations of its Certificate:

• Unauthorized relocation of the project’s operations and maintenance building;
• Unauthorized relocation of two of the Gamesa G87 turbines;
• Failure to comply with the NH State Fire Code;
• Failure to comply with the NH State Building Code;
• Safety and Maintenance concerns;
• An Inadequate Environmental, Health, and Safety Plan.

The impact of the violations has resulted in immediate harm to New Hampshire residents.

The relocated O&M building, for example, now sits as a massive structure in the midst of a number of homes that had previously expected to be buffered by distance and trees from the building and its immense leveled terrace. One of the affected homeowners, whose drinking water well was also contaminated by the project construction, pleaded to the SEC that his property has suffered great harm due to the changes from the original plan. “My home,” he wrote, “is now overshadowed by an industrial building which looms above my property, rendering it almost worthless. …the continuous noise and constant traffic prevent me from enjoying my home.”

“Iberdrola has demonstrated a reckless disregard for New Hampshire’s rules and its residents,” said Lori Lerner, President of New Hampshire Wind Watch, a citizens’ group focused on the impacts and costs of large-scale wind in the state. “The NH Attorney General, our State Fire Marshall, and numerous members of the public have called on the SEC to require Iberdrola to correct the violations or order that project operations stop.”

Iberdrola, which also operates the Lempster Wind project in the state, has announced its intent to construct another wind facility adjacent to Groton Wind in the towns of Alexandria and Danbury in the Lakes Region of NH. Carole Binder, a board member of New Hampshire Wind Watch said, “Given the ongoing controversy surrounding this latest project, Iberdrola can expect significant pushback from the public”.

All related documents on this matter can be found at: http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/2010-01/index.htm

Documents on the NH SEC website of specific interest are listed below:

Procedural Order and Notice of Possible Suspension of Certificate of Site and Facility:
http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/2010-01/documents/131104order_notice.pdf

Letter from the NH State Fire Marshal Ron Anstey:
http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/2010-01/documents/131018anstey.pdf

Response of Counsel to the Public to Filing of Groton Wind LLC’s Environmental Health and Safety Plan
http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/2010-01/documents/131018response_ctp.pdf

Request to Intervene for Mario Rampino Jr.:
http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/2010-01/documents/131003rampino.pdf

102 conservative groups target wind power subsidies

A coalition of 102 conservative groups are pressing Congress to end federal subsidies to the wind power industry, arguing that 20 years of taxpayer support has yielded no benefit.

“The principal federal support for the wind energy industry is scheduled to expire at the end of this year,” reads the letter from the conservative groups led by Americans for Prosperity. “The undersigned organizations and the millions of Americans we represent stand opposed to extending the production tax credit (PTC).”

The federal Wind Production Tax Credit was extended until the end of 2013 as part of last year’s deal to avoid government spending cuts and sharp tax increases. The extension split Republicans, pitting lawmakers from wind states against those from non-wind states.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has been a strong proponent of keeping in place taxpayer subsidies for wind power, but has also supported phasing out the subsidies over time so the industry can become self-sufficient.

“Continued investment in wind-energy production emphasizes the value and success of the federal production tax credit,” Grassley said. “Wind energy has proven that it’s a force in America’s energy supply, providing clean, renewable, and home-grown power. Wind energy comes from local farms, it’s for local customers and, most often, it adds investment value to local communities.”

However, wind power has been receiving subsidies since 1992, according to conservatives, with little to show.

“The wind industry has very little to show after 20 years of preferential tax treatment; it remains woefully dependent on this federal support,” wrote conservative groups, including the American Energy Alliance, FreedomWorks and the R Street Institute. “Yet despite this consistent under-performance, Congress has repeatedly voted to extend the PTC, usually in 1- or 2-year increments.”

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the wind PTC extension will cost $12 billion. As the expiration date for the tax benefit’s expiration comes closer lobbying on the credit has intensified

In October, the Western Governor’s Association sent lawmakers a letter urging them to relax the definition of which wind projects qualify for subsidies. The governors wanted to extend subsidies to projects under construction rather than those already generating power.

“Changing the [PTC] to a ‘commence construction’ standard would allow these industries to make full and effective use of the 30 percent investment tax credit for the duration of its existing authorization… and will allow them to attract further investment — driving industry and job growth in our states,” reads the governors’ letter to Congress.

In contrast, conservative groups are ramping up their campaign to end the wind subsidy, asking ten lawmakers to sign a letter being circulated by Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo opposing the wind PTC’s extension.

“The people we’re focusing on right now are not the low-hanging fruit and they’re not the people that we’re not going to get,” Christine Harbin Hanson, federal affairs manager of Americans for Prosperity, told Politico. “We’re reaching for the middle.”

AFP’s ad campaign is in addition to the letter signed by more than 100 other conservative groups that went out on Tuesday.

“This year, Congress should break from the past and allow the wind PTC to expire as scheduled, once and for all. Americans deserve energy solutions that can make it on their own in the marketplace—not ones that need to be propped up by government indefinitely,” the letter adds.

Wind turbines are also responsible 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities per year, according to research. However, wind companies have not been prosecuted for the mass killing of birds, which is against federal law.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/11/05/102-conservative-groups-target-wind-power-subsidies/

Wind Energy Gets Away With Murder

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. So Wind Farms kill eagles. It’s not like we don’t kill beautiful endangered animals all the time. True, these are federally-protected and they’re an iconic symbol of our democracy. But hey, who minds using taxpayer dollars to kill a few icons?

I guess it’s the hypocrisy that galls. Under both the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Acts and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the death of a single eagle is a felony, and the Administration has prosecuted oil companies when birds drown in their oily facilities, and fined utilities when birds are electrocuted by their power lines.

But, come on, everyone hates oil companies. And who even knows what a utility is.

So the Interior Department can be forgiven for never fining or prosecuting a wind-energy company that repeatedly kills eagles. And we taxpayers can be forgiven for subsidizing them to the tune of a billion dollars a year.

According to an estimate published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin in March almost 600,000 birds are killed by wind farms in America each year, including over 80,000 raptors such as hawks and falcons and eagles (Wildlife Society). Even more bats die as their lungs are inverted by the negative pressures generated behind the 170 mile-per-hour spinning blades.

A wind industry spokesman countered by saying “We don’t kill as many as cars do.”

Well said!

A paper published in the Journal of Raptor Research by Fish and Wildlife researchers really hit a nerve when it reported that wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years. Because companies report eagle deaths voluntarily, the scientists said their figure is greatly underestimated.

Even worse, the study did not include the large wind farm at Altamont Pass in California that alone kills more than 60 eagles per year (NBC). In addition, the recently-approved construction of the nation’s largest wind farm in Wyoming would kill about 50 eagles each year, just by itself.

“It is not an isolated event that is restricted to one place…it is pretty widespread,” said Brian Millsap, the national raptor coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and one of the study’s authors.

Rarely discussed is the impact of wind farms on habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, and the large area of roads serving the farms (Wildlife Society). The physical footprint of human systems is one of the fundamental measures of environmental harm. We use it to assess the impact of roads, pipelines, airports and shopping centers. While we focus on the low carbon footprint of wind energy, we need to appreciate its enormous physical footprint.

The typical footprint assigned for a 1 MW wind turbine is 0.25 acres. However, this does not include the 5-10 turbine diameters of spacing required between wind turbines. This extra area is often cited as being useable for farming. But with respect to aerial ecosystems inhabited by birds, this area is not merely unuseable, it is deadly.

About 60 square miles of land covered with wind turbines is necessary to produce 1 billion kWhrs per year (NREL) but the affected area for birds is over 400 square miles. In contrast, it takes only 3 square miles of land for gas fired power plants, and less than 1 square mile for a nuclear plant, to produce the same amount of power. These include the land required for mining and drilling.

This is not a trivial difference. The large physical footprint represents probably the weakest point of wind energy. Every energy source has a drawback.

Maybe a few fines and prosecutions would spur the wind industry to take this issue more seriously, and address their Achilles’ heel. Wind really shouldn’t get a free pass just because they make a contribution to reducing carbon emissions. Hydro and nuclear make infinitely more contributions to reducing emissions and they don’t get a pass for anything.

The golden eagle, seen here, is even more at risk from turbines, with ten times the number of deaths at wind farms than the bald eagle. Photo credit: George Gentry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Fortunately, the Audubon Society has come up with guidelines on how to site wind farms correctly to reduce the bird kills (Audubon), and State governments are beginning to take action (Huffington Post).

On the other hand, the White House is considering giving wind generators permission to kill a set number of eagles for the next 30 years, at the urging of wind-energy lobbyists. Unfortunately for eagles, such permission is not subject to an environmental review because it is only an administrative change.

What?

BP was fined $100 million for harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf spill, and PacifiCorp paid $10 million in 2009 for electrocuting eagles along power lines and at its substations. Exxon Mobil pleaded guilty to killing birds and paid $600,000 to the State of Colorado.

Common, we just extended a $12 billion tax break for the wind industry (Tax Breaks), we don’t need this kind of shenanigans. Making an exception for one industry substantially weakens the government’s ability to enforce the law and has become an issue inside the Interior Department itself.

By James Conca, Forbes

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not do this for the electric utility industry or other industries,” Kevin Kritz, a government wildlife biologist in the Rocky Mountain region wrote in September of 2011. “Other industries will want to be judged on a similar standard.”

The Interior Department repeatedly overrules its experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service on the wind issue. The wind industry actually became part of the committee that drafted and edited the guidelines and pretty much got everything it wanted, including stripping law-enforcement agents in the field from having the authority to file charges with federal attorneys.

Wow! Just like Big Oil. I guess Wind has really arrived.

You know, it’s not the money. These fines are a pittance. It’s the idea that we don’t need to compromise one set of environmental principles for another.

Widespread implementation of wind farms is relatively new, and research and evaluation is only just beginning. Frantically taking advantage of wind construction/production tax credits before they disappear is not a good reason to harm this special ecosystem.

The Administration needs to care about this. Just like any technology, there are good places to build and bad places to build.

We need to build in the good places.

WIND TURBINE HUMAN HEALTH SCANDAL: NEW EVIDENCE

Written by Sarah Laurie, The waubrafoundation.org.au

Fresh medical evidence from Australia supports scientific claims of a direct causal link between wind turbine low-level pressure pulses and symptoms of sickness in humans – even up to 20 miles away.

Witness statements from residents and the extract of Acoustician Les Huson’s expert opinion are now up as documents on the waubrafoundation.org.au website for people to use as they see fit to educate others.

In a nutshell noise expert Les Huson has found a remarkable correlation (86% of the time) between Gus Gardner’s symptoms as recorded in his diary of “bolts of pressure” and transient pressure pulses of infrasound detected by Les’s infrasound pressure monitor from the Macarthur wind turbines. Gus was blinded to the acoustic data at the time he recorded his symptoms.

Thus the evidence to support our hypothesis of a direct causal link between wind turbine generated infrasound pressure pulses and specific symptoms is mounting. There have been numerous other rural residents in Australia living or working near large wind turbines who have reported similar sudden pressure “bolt” sensations – dropping fit farmers to their knees (not easily done), or “thumps in the chest” and then feeling very unwell. I would be very interested to hear from anyone with a history of symptoms like this (contact: sarah@waubrafoundation.org.au)

This is the first time to my knowledge that we have captured any acoustic data proving these pressure peaks occur at a time when someone was experiencing these sudden intense symptoms. Acousticians I have discussed this symptom complex with previously think it may be caused by summation of pressure peaks from multiple wind turbines ie a cumulative effect, and these people are just in the “wrong place” when those pressure peaks from multiple wind turbines combine. We have never previously captured the measurements of pressure at the time the symptoms were occurring.

Les Huson’s data seems to support that hypothesis, but more work needs to be done to confirm it including replicating these pressures in a laboratory situation.

Les also found that the infrasound from the wind turbines at Leonards Hill travelled over 30km and the attenuation followed the pattern of the NASA experiments in the 1980’s ie attenuated at 3 dB per doubling (audible sound attenuates at a much faster rate of 6 dB per doubling)

However the infrasound generated by 140 turbines at Macarthur does not attenuate in the same way when it is measured within 6.4 km of the nearest wind turbine. His measurements showed that there was effectively NO attenuation at all between 1.8 and 6.4 km.

In some instances the pressure peaks measured were even greater at 6.4km than inside homes closer to the wind turbines.

Les is preparing his data for publication, so cannot share the full report submitted to the Tribunal, however he has given permission for the extract of his expert opinion to be circulated. He is also actively sharing the information with colleagues in Australia and internationally, and with state based bureaucracies with a direct interest in this issue.

Most importantly he stated that “I find it entirely plausible that infrasound can cause nuisance and disturbed sleep in communities surrounding wind farm developments similar to the Macarthur and Leonards Hill developments.”

The links are here:

http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/huson-l-expert-evidence-at-vcat-cherry-tree-hearing/ (Les Huson’s expert witness statement extract summarising his findings)

http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/gardner-statement-vcat-cherry-tree-hearing/ (resident who experiences the pressure bolts)

http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/hetherington-j-witness-statement-vcat-cherry-tree-tribunal/ (resident who lives 3km away)

http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/linke-m-witness-statement-vcat-cherry-tree-hearing/ (resident who lives 5km away and cannot see the turbines)

I hope this information is widely circulated and used to educate as many people as possible about both the noise & pressure fluctuation impacts and the latest acoustic data from large wind turbines in an array on flat land (140 VESTAS V 112 3 MW wind turbines).

Heartfelt thanks again to the Macarthur witnesses who have given their permission for the information to be circulated further than the Cherry Tree Tribunal hearing, and to those who donated to the Foundation to enable us to present the information with appropriate legal support to the Tribunal.

Sarah Laurie, waubrafoundation.org.au