Cohocton Wind Watch: 'Silent But Deadly': Wind Turbines in Western New York - Part Two
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Sunday, December 04, 2011

'Silent But Deadly': Wind Turbines in Western New York - Part Two

Need for further study and public input
Wind farms have been hurriedly implemented in many places with minimal input from citizens. What people like Ross, Krogh, and members of CSOO want is not to outlaw wind energy altogether, but to push for closer and more critical study of the technology and how it impacts people's lives and communities.

"The problem is that there is no front-end research being done," Krogh said. "We haven't taken the time to ask, 'What are these?' or 'Where should we put them?'"

Ross believes dirty, underhanded tactics on the part of the wind turbine industry to be a factor.

"People who own land (on which wind turbines are being built) are being paid hush money several times a year so that they can't be interviewed," she said. "It's real dirty."

She claimed to have learned this from the daughter of a Wyoming County landowner on whose property industrial turbines have been installed.

Similarly, Krogh cited anecdotal evidence from Ontario that people who, after suffering the effects of wind turbine activity, are forced to leave their homes are asked to agree to nondisclosure clauses, according to which they cannot talk about their negative experiences.

"They don't show these clauses to reporters because of the risk," she said.

Complicity on the part of local governments has also been a factor. Abraham, who handled a case similar to that of CSOO in the Wyoming County community of Centerville in 2009, talked a bit about his experience.

Abraham was drawn to the Centerville case by two things:

1) the convincing, focused arguments of Centerville citizens against the presence of wind farms in their community, and

2) their local representatives' overeager acceptance of the wind farm proposal.

"I was struck," Abraham said, "by the knee-jerk support for so intrusive a change . . . by the town board members, and by the special counsel they hired to help them draft a local law to accommodate the project."

Especially troubling was the fact that the town broke the law by agreeing to the project without a complete review of its consequences.

“Its special counsel advised that the local law had no adverse environmental effects,” Abraham said, “and so no environmental review was required. The local law in question is like numerous local wind laws adopted by New York towns, as recommended by NYSERDA, based on no more than wind industry recommendations.”

“Allowing sound levels to increase by 25 decibels,” he continued, “was a significant change in the environment that should have been fully reviewed, with opportunity for public comment and a requirement that the final decision show it was the result of some meaningful research into wind turbine noise. The appeals court noted that local laws that change more than 10 acres of land are subject to environmental review, and this one would change the whole town. Therefore, failure to undertake a full review of the consequences of adopting the law was illegal.”

He is encountering a similar state of affairs in Orangeville.

"For three years," Lomanto said, "citizens (of Orangeville) couldn't say anything at town board meetings about the wind turbine project."

And when they were allowed to voice their concerns, according to Lomanto, "they had to write them down." There was no guarantee that these written missives would be addressed.
What's a body to do?

Here are two pieces of advice for concerned citizens living near industrial wind turbines. The first is from Abraham, the second is from Krogh:

"Those who live nearby," Abraham said, "should consult a medical professional about the effect of low frequency and nuisance audible sound as a chronic night condition."

"Local communities should avoid divisiveness and work together," Krogh said, observing that disagreements over wind farms can cause tensions in these communities. "It's important that the municipalities are educated on this issue, because they can make a difference."

For her part, Krogh would also like to see efforts to provide financial help to those who are forced to leave their homes because of these projects and cannot afford buyouts.

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