A very small but vocal group, Coalition for Rural Property Rights, is attacking Iowa’s clean renewable wind industry. This coalition of anti-wind energy fanatics have convinced some Republicans in the Iowa Senate to sponsor a bill that could severely damage Iowa’s wind industry. The bill SF 361 sponsored by Waylon Brown (R-St Ansgar) would increase the minimum distance a wind turbine can be placed from an adjacent property line, increasing the distance to 1,250 feet.
It seems designed to be a way to kill the wind industry. Setting unreasonably large setbacks will severely limit the potential sites available for future turbines.
The Iowa Environmental Council recommends no more than 600 feet setback of turbines from adjacent property lines. They also recommend setbacks are best left to the discretion of local control by county supervisors rather than mandated by the state. Once again, Republicans are dismissing local control and demanding legislative mandates.
A representative of the Environmental Law and Policy Center estimated that the increase in distance to 1250 feet would have prevented a large number of the current wind turbines to be erected.
The Coalition for Rural Property Rights are using unproven and bogus claims with a laundry list of alleged health risks associated with living in proximity to wind turbines. They claim turbine-created noise, light flickering and blade motion cause all these maladies to neighbors of wind turbines. Their misinformation list includes hearing loss, nausea, headaches, blurred vision, sleep deprivation, seizures, panic attacks, muscle and joint pain, memory loss, chronic fatigue, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
They don’t seem to present any credible scientific evidence to support any of their claims, yet they persist in their daily misguided attacks. One of their more humorous recent Facebook posts included an article blaming a cattle stampede on wind turbines. What’s next? Do Wind turbines cause pigs to fly?
In an effort to counter some of these ridiculous claims, a joint health report on wind turbines was released by the Iowa Environmental Council, University of Iowa’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center and Iowa Policy Project. That report released in January specifically looked at 32 different health complaints associated with wind turbines. They summed up the findings by saying some wind turbine neighbors might be annoyed, but there are no harmful health effects.
“There’s no evidence of hearing loss associated with wind, really no evidence of stress or other health outcomes, limited evidence for sleep disturbance, but really where there is sufficient evidence, according to these authoritative sources we’ve studied, is feelings of annoyance,” said Peter Thorne, head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa.
“The feelings of annoyance are not likely due to the sound … but they’re due to peoples’ perceptions about wind energy or viewsheds, not directly related to the wind turbine noise itself,” Thorne added.
The report is based on research by the Council of Canadian Academies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Coalition for Rural Property Rights dismissed the Iowa Policy Project’s scientific health research as, “Trivial reports produced by agenda-driven researchers in Iowa.”
Iowa Republicans should be doing everything possible to build on the tremendous benefits that the Iowa wind industry has delivered to Iowa. It provides 9,000 good paying Iowa jobs and that number will grow to 15,000 by 2020, according to the Iowa Wind Energy Association. Iowa counties benefit from millions of dollars in property taxes; landowners are paid millions of dollars in lease payments; and Iowa consumers benefit from cheap, clean and renewable electricity generation.
A study led by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that more than 9 in 10 people who live close to wind turbines view them positively or neutrally. Clearly the opponents of wind turbines represent an insignificant but very loud minority of Iowans.
Iowa’s wind industry is nationally recognized as leading the nation in producing the highest percentage of electricity (37%) by wind of any state. MidAmerican Energy is scheduled to reach 100% of their equivalent electrical energy demand by 2021. As the debate over climate action in the presidential contest heats up, Iowa will be looked to for their national leadership in championing wind and solar. This is certainly not the time to damage our national reputation in solving the coming climate crisis.
We must not allow a small group of misguided anti-wind zealots from spreading disinformation in an attempt to disrupt Iowa’s successful wind energy industry. Iowans must oppose SF 361 and other efforts to damage Iowa’s solar and wind leadership.
by Rick Smith