“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Troubles In The Alternative Energy World

Another blow to Al Gore's dreams of alternative energy. Here are some passages from an editorial in yesterday's Wall Street Journal entitled "The Brewing Tempest Over Wind Power."

The Obama administration has made the increased use of wind power to generate electricity a top priority. In 2009 alone, U.S. wind generation capacity increased by 39%. But more wind power means more giant turbines closer to more people. And if current trends continue, that spells trouble.

In 2007, a phalanx of wind turbines were built around Charlie Porter's property in rural northern Missouri. Soon, Mr. Porter began to have trouble sleeping. So did his wife and daughter. The noise, he told me, made sleeping almost impossible. "We tried everything—earplugs, leaving the TV station on all night." Nothing worked. Late last year he moved his family off their 20-acre farm.

Mr. Porter's story is no isolated event. Rural residents in Texas, Maine, Pennsylvania, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France and England have been complaining about the noise from wind turbines, particularly about sleep deprivation. Dozens of news stories—most of them published in rural newspapers—have documented the problem.

Doctors and acoustics experts from the U.S. to Australia report a raft of symptoms that they blame on wind turbine noise, including sleep disturbance, headaches and vertigo. Dr. Nina Pierpont, a pediatrician in Malone, N.Y., has studied 36 people affected by wind turbine noise since 2004 at her own expense. The people she interviewed were widely dispersed; they lived in the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland and Italy. She found that the collection of symptoms she calls "wind turbine syndrome" disappeared as soon as people moved out of their noise-affected homes and into new locations at least five miles from any turbines.

The wind lobby has publicly rejected these claims. In December, the American Wind Energy Association in conjunction with the Canadian Wind Energy Association, issued a report titled "Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects: An Expert Review Panel." It declared: "There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects." It also suggested that some of the symptoms being attributed to wind turbine noise were likely psychosomatic and asserted that the vibrations from the turbines are "too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans."

Yet the report also noted that in "the area of wind turbine health effects, no case-control or cohort studies have been conducted as of this date." True enough—but it means there are no studies to prove or disprove the case. It also says that "a small number of sensitive people" may be "stressed" by wind turbine noise and suffer sleep deprivation. But who gets to define "sensitive" and "small number"? And if turbine noise and sleep disturbance aren't problems, then why are people in so many different locations complaining in almost identical ways? Such questions are only going to be pressed with more urgency in the future.

By 2030, environmental and lobby groups are pushing for the U.S. to produce 20% of its electricity from wind. According to the Department of Energy, meeting that goal will require the U.S. to have about 300,000 megawatts of wind capacity, an eightfold increase over current levels. Installing tens of thousands of new turbines inevitably means they'll be located closer to populated areas.

It doesn't look good for wind power, does it? Guess somebody better phone Boone Pickens to break the bad news to him.

Meanwhile, on the other flank, Democratic Senators in West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan banded together to put EPA head Lisa Jackson on notice that they plan to strip her agency of the ability to regulate carbon.

In a move that shows economics trumping junk science, the Senators from these coal-producing states are pushing back against their own party's administration's attempt to set rules on carbon emissions, regardless of the fate of the cap and tax legislation now stalled in the chamber.

Looks like sanity and common sense may be catching up with the wacky left-wing premature push to abandon fossil-fuel based activity and bet the ranch on alternative sources, among them, wind.

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