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Net Neutrality Action Day July 12, 2017

July 12, 2017

Many of the videos supplied by Wind Wise Massachusetts are housed on the Vimeo website. Here is a plea from Vimeo to keep an open Internet. If the Federal Communications Commission rules reduce access, sites like ours may get less traffic as readers are frustrated in loading documents, images, and links to content like videos and news websites

Fight-for-Net-Neutrality

Why we need net neutrality from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo.

Falmouth Selectmen Bow to Court Ruling

July 11, 2017
Hoosac-Don't get fooled like

Hoosac Wind ribbon-cutting December 2012. Photo credit: Virginia Irvine

Louise Grabowski, President of Wind Wise~Massachusetts, noted the import of the June 20, 2017 ruling from Barnstable Superior Court:

“We are confident the Superior Court’s ruling that these massive wind turbines  ‘constitute a substantial and unreasonable interference’ with the lives of those living near them will discourage other towns from erecting these industrial machines too close to people.”

According to Cape Cod Times reporter Adam Lucente, the Board of Selectmen chose not to appeal the decision because it would further divide the town (“Falmouth won’t appeal order to shut down wind turbines,” 7/10/17). Falmouth has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs and has lost revenue from court-ordered shutdowns. Residents had filed many suits, one of which resulted in the turbine operating on a reduced schedule. In this recent decision, the judge ruled against the town’s appeal of a “nuisance” ruling by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals.

Wind Wise has been following the efforts of residents in communities across Massachusetts, where wind power plants have been sited. Grabowski said,

“The Board of Selectman’s decision not to appeal the court’s ruling is a decisive and hard won victory for those in Falmouth who have suffered for years from the harmful health impact of the wind turbines too close to their homes.

Shutdown Ordered for Both Falmouth Town-owned Turbines

June 21, 2017

Barnstable Superior Court Judge Cornelius Moriarty issued the order to shut down Falmouth’s Wind 1 and Wind 2 on June 20, 2017. The judge denied the appeal brought by Falmouth selectmen against the Zoning Board of Appeals. The ZBA had found the turbines to be a “nuisance.”

Cape Cod Times reporter Ethan Genter wrote (in “Falmouth ordered to shut down turbines“):

Barry Funfar flanked by turbines (see the Boston Globe profile from 2014)

Moriarty’s decision was welcomed by Barry Funfar, who lives next to one of the turbines and has sunk more than $100,000 into fighting their operation.

“We’ve been waiting for this decision for six months,” Funfar said.

“Wind neighbors” have brought nine suits against the town-owned turbines. Due to a judge’s order in one of these, Wind 1 was already out of operation and Wind 2 was operating on a reduced schedule limited to 12 hours. This has given the people impacted by the turbine a chance to sleep at night–something not available to the people of Kingston, Fairhaven, Bourne, Plymouth and areas near the Hoosac project in the Berkshires.

Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise Heard in Boston

June 11, 2017
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L-R Barry Funfar, Neil Andersen, Louise Barteau. Photo credits Louise Grabowski

Eight activists from Wind Wise told the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture why House Bills 464 and 2133 matter to families who live near industrial wind plants. The June 6, 2017 hearing was chaired by Senator Anne Gobi.

The Department of Environmental Protection is mandated to protect the public from noise pollution. These bills would add “infrasound,” “low frequency noise,” and “aerodynamic amplitude modulation” to the types of emissions regulated by MADEP.

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Sen. Anne Gobi (center) chaired the hearing

Barry Funfar and Neil Andersen, both from Falmouth, and Louise Barteau from Fairhaven reported their first-hand experience with ILFN.

Watch a video of Dale LaBonte’s comments on the problem with infrasound.

Dr. Wayne Klug of Lanesboro wrote to urge the committee to report out both bills favorably because they are “needed to protect the health and safety of Massachusetts residents.”

The attractive and comforting image of majestic wind turbines turning gracefully against the sky, generating clean, limitless energy—seemingly all benefit and no cost—begins to tarnish as we hear about particulars that neither wind developers nor government agencies have so far cared to discuss.

Of special relevance to the current bills, we hear about the turbines’ high-frequency noise—and its inaudible low-frequency counterpart, called “infrasound”—that creates headaches, vertigo, and elevated blood pressures among humans living within 1.5 miles on level, and 2 miles or more on mountainous, terrain.

Currently, the Massachusetts DEP does not regulate these unique noise characteristics, even though ample evidence suggests that neighbors are being sickened by turbine noise. Current noise assessment procedures require the quantification only of acoustical phenomena that are audible to human hearing (in dBAs).

H. 464 addresses this oversight by making clear that the DEP’s power to regulate noise extends to low frequency noise, infrasound, and aerodynamic amplitude modulation. Similarly, H. 2133 will require that these terms – “low frequency noise”, “infrasound”, and “aerodynamic amplitude modulation” – be included in the definition of noise pollution regulated by the DEP. Adding these three terms will provide the basis for regulating them – as proposed in H. 464.

Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts has additional information on ILFN (infrasound and low frequency noise), vibroacoustic disease, and research studies which confirm the impacts people experience from the inaudible emissions industrial wind turbines generate.

Commenters to DEP-Here’s what protective regulations look like

June 11, 2016
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SEAlicense-BEQUIETFrom his “BE QUIET” license plate to his email signature statement, “Neighbors are far better acoustic analyzers for determining the quality of their life versus any acoustic instrument left unattended by an expert,” Stephen Ambrose has been a champion. His quest has been to safeguard the health and well-being of the public from unwanted noise. As an acoustician, he has addressed noise threats–from manufacturing plants to commercial turbines. His expertise led the MassDEP to invite him to serve on the WNTAG panel.

The recommendation (below) has specifications to deal with limiting noise, but its implementation mandates even more accountability:

  • Noise measurements are the financial responsibility of the project owner and shall be independently performed by a qualified professional

  • Noise measurement shall prevail versus noise predictions.

Ambrose's protective noise regulation

Commenters to DEP–Citizen Input Excluded

May 28, 2016
Fairhaven-complaints

This 2014 mapping of turbine complaints shows some of the 850 lodged to date. Blue circles show where DEP measured exceedances.

In Louise Barteau’s comments to the MassDEP, she finds the WNTAG process deeply flawed and incapable of protecting the public from the noise pollution generated by wind turbines like the ones in Fairhaven.

I remain deeply troubled by this lengthy and expensive WNTAG process that refused to include in any meaningful way the voices of Fairhaven citizens who are forced to live near Fairhaven Wind’s Industrial Wind Turbines. This follows a pattern by the MA DEP, the developers, and town officials to exclude these citizens from meaningful participation in decisions that significantly impacted their health and their quality of living.

She questions the purpose of all the study if the DEP refuses to enforce the existing noise regulations for “’multiple measured exceedances’”

The WNTAG process has been an egregious and dangerous example of the bias of the state government when it chose to favor the wind industry over the lives of individual citizens of the state of Massachusetts–many whose health has been sacrificed, whose properties have been taken without compensation, and whose faith in their government has been destroyed.

Commenters to DEP–RSG Study Unfinished

May 23, 2016
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“Frustration was the sentiment felt when I reached … SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS, in RSG’s ‘Research Study on Wind Turbine Acoustics,'” commented Marie J. Stamos.

A lot of time, manpower and taxpayer money ($491, 986 To RSG and $68,821 to Consensus Building Institute as of September 2015), were used, in essence, to create one-half of a report, and we are left, still, with a lot of questions unanswered, and many gray-area assumptions and an uncertain path ahead.Bourne-Kearney-bay-view

Stamos included compelling photos of the latest wind turbine project underway in Bourne. She emphasized in her submission:

The most disturbing fact, and this cannot be said often enough, is that … none of the Massachusetts wind turbine victims have been called upon to give their “testimony” and the facts and knowledge they have about the coming of the industrial wind turbine into their lives, into their homes and creating an unhealthy environment.  The testing completed in the RSG Report, one would assume, was to give a better understanding and insight into the Massachusetts wind turbine complaints, identify the problem-causing entity, resolve the problem, and establish a protocol, based on fact, that would avoid issues in the future. Instead, infrasound and low frequency sound have been swept under the rug, gagged and tied and held harmless, but Something is harming people and must be identified before the industrial wind turbine agenda is allowed to continue in any location in the State of Massachusetts.

Commenters to DEP–protect residents from noise pollution

May 22, 2016
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Public Health Disaster - WWMA - 2-28-13With the meetings of the Wind and Noise Turbine Advisory Group (WNTAG)  concluded, the MassDEP opened a comment period. Among those submitting their response was Lilli-Ann Green who said in her overview:

There are at least 21 wind turbine locations in Massachusetts where people living near wind turbines have reported health problems since 2010. The people did not experience the health problems they now report prior to wind turbine construction. When they leave their home, they do not experience the health problems. When they return to their home, they experience the symptoms. They report the symptoms become worse over time. The problem is not going away. The citizens of Massachusetts deserve to be returned to good health. The source of their health problems needs to be addressed and as soon as possible. It is not fair or right to knowingly harm people living in Massachusetts. The foundation of our democracy is that minorities have rights and the health of citizens should be protected.

To date no wind turbine has been permanently shut down by any Massachusetts agency. Some Massachusetts agency needs to step in and take action steps to help the people suffering if local boards of health are not protecting and helping people in their cities and towns.

Read the full comment 

Her conclusion asserts

…the next logical step is assessment of health problems for people living and working near wind turbines who had originally filed noise complaints. This will help determine what symptoms remain and what next steps are in order to eliminate the health problems.

 

New Regs or Policies? Weigh in on Noise!

March 30, 2016

Update: The comment period has been extended to May 13, 2016.


As a result of the series of meetings held with the Wind and Noise Turbine Advisory Group (WNTAG), new regulations, guidelines, or policies may be in the cards. And while the deck has been largely stacked against wind neighbors, this is an opportunity to throw down the aces: include infrasound, set L-90 low, use fast meter settings, recognize amplitude modulation. Play the wild card, too: anticipate wind shear.

Public comments are due April 8, 2016. Send them to the MassDEP’s Deputy Regional Director Laurel Carlson (Laurel.Carlson@state.ma.us) and to the Consensus Building Institute’s Senior Mediator Stacie Smith (stacie@cbuilding.org).

This table shows the relevant slides on potential regulation and guidelines. Click on a slide to view it or access the whole draft at  Scope of Possible Noise Regulation and Policy.

WNTAG-Under-consideration WNTAG-Requirments WNTAG-Regulation-1 WNTAG-Regulation-2
WNTAG-Guidance-elements WNTAG-Permit-elements WNTAG-Alt-compliance-metrics WNTAGNext-steps

If models low-ball noise, will ears cooperate?

March 15, 2016
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RSG2008caution-2008-graph

Acoustician Stephen Ambrose has released a one-page illustration (with the two graphs shown here) of the difference between modeled noise and the experience of measured noise as described in an RSG report from 2008. Modeling the current class of industrial wind turbines turns out to be a poor predictor of noise, either as recorded by instruments or as heard by the humans who come into contact with it.

Ambrose’s reminder comes at a time when the Wind and Noise Turbine Advisory Group (WNTAG) is about to have it’s “final” meeting, which will feature the “final report” the DEP plans to issue. According to Bethany A. Card, Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Planning of the  MassDEP, in an email on March, 14, 2016:

The March 18th meeting  is to provide an overview of the final  report. In addition,  MassDEP will also present ideas for possible revised noise policies and regulations. We will accept comments on that presentation and the ideas until early April and any on-going work related to possible regulation changes will provide additional opportunity for stakeholder and public involvement and comment.

RSG2008caution-underprediction-noise

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