Resource Documents: Impacts (128 items)
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Author: Smith, Annette
Michael Moore’s documentary “Planet of the Humans” by Jeff Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner has stirred up a frenzy of criticism from climate change activists, a Rolling Stone rebuttal by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and demands by filmmaker Josh Fox to take the movie down.
I am motivated to write from the trenches of Vermont, where some of the film’s footage is centered, in response to the strident accusations that “Planet of the Humans” is causing tremendous damage to the climate change movement by casting renewables – wind, solar and biomass – in negative terms full of inaccuracies.
“Planet of the Humans” was too kind to renewable energy. It is an ugly business. Greed and political power combine with renewable energy to destroy the environment and the lives of the people who live nearby.
After the video’s release, I received a critique originating from Vermont by someone I do not know stating, “My guess is that the group he is walking with in this section is Annette Smith’s Vermonters for a Clean Environment, which has done more harm to Vermont’s transition off of fossil fuels to renewable energy than everyone else combined.” Yes, that’s me, the thorn in the side of renewable developers. No, I was not in the film.
In 1999, I founded an organization to fight a natural gas power plant and pipeline project supported by then-Governor Howard Dean. Living off-grid with solar, batteries and a generator, I believed solar was our energy future. With facts, information and grassroots organizing, we ran the gas guys out of the state.
In 2009, an industrial wind project was proposed in my county. Numerous people on both sides reached out asking us to get involved.
To my surprise, wind energy development, especially on top of mountains, raised numerous issues. I had seen the eleven 196’ tall 600 kW wind turbines built in 1996 in southern Vermont and thought they were beautiful. I went with a friend whose farm hosted SolarFest to see a New York project with fifty 420’ tall 2.5 mW wind turbines. We talked to a farmer who hosted some of the turbines. We talked to neighbors who wished they hadn’t signed the lease because the noise was horrible after being told there would be no noise. On the ride home we agreed that what we saw was “very disturbing.”
The next ten years blur together as Vermonters elected a governor committed to building as much renewable energy everywhere possible.
Governor Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Bill McKibben shut down conversations about impacts to communities and the natural environment because “we do not have time for that conversation.” At a Bernie Sanders press conference, we were compared to creationists. Gov. Shumlin called us “cave people.”
Now, thanks to “Planet of the Humans”, we are finally having that conversation.
The former state naturalist, a climate change scientist, a wildlife habitat specialist, and a former commissioner of fish and wildlife came together to educate the public about our mountains’ values for climate change adaptation, with a series of roundtable discussions called Peak Keepers about the importance of mountains for wildlife, water, and forests.
When the Lowell Mountains were being sacrificed for the wind project developed by Green Mountain Power – subsidiary of Energir, 30% owned by fossil fuel pipeline developer Enbridge – Vermonters hiked up the other side of the mountain to see for themselves what “green energy” looks like.
Don and Shirley Nelson’s farm bordered the wind project for a mile and a half. For 50 years, the Nelsons never kept anyone off their ~600 acres. They permitted people to hike up. GMP was not happy. With no notice to the Nelsons, GMP got a Temporary Restraining Order and sued them, prohibiting everyone from going within 1000 feet of the wind project site. Police with dogs patrolled and arrested people, including a reporter. At least 20 people were arrested on different occasions, some intentionally.
A Vermonter invited Bill McKibben to come see for himself. He declined.
After the wind project was built, the Nelsons got sick from the wind project’s acoustic emissions and had no choice but to sell to GMP. It came with a gag order so Don and Shirley cannot talk about their experience. They were collateral damage. Many other neighbors of industrial wind projects have shared the same fate.
As more wind projects were proposed in Vermont, I watched people lose their innocence as they, like me, thought wind and solar energy were going to save the planet. The more we learned, the more opposed we became.
The film neglects the societal damage caused by wind energy. Wind developers’ playbook requires dividing communities. It is guaranteed that opposition will arise, so they try to create a proponent group to combat the opponents. Even areas where wind projects have failed are left with animosities that will take generations to heal. We have seen companies offer to write letters for proponents to send to the local papers and try to buy votes.
In 2016, I felt the wrath of the wind and solar industry when someone filed a complaint with Vermont’s Attorney General alleging I was practicing law without a license by assisting people in participating in the regulatory process for energy projects at the Public Utility Commission. It was a criminal investigation. Newspaper editorials and Green Mountain Power came to my defense. I hired a criminal defense attorney who wrote a letter to the AG pointing out that “the AG’s office is not the surrogate of the politically frustrated.” The AG dropped it, and an attorney who previously sent a letter telling me he represented a wind and solar developer admitted he filed the complaint, but claimed he did it on his own.
Industrial solar is no better. A wealthy developer seeking to cut more than 100 acres of forest filed lawsuits against a town, neighbors, state agencies, and even the governor while proclaiming he is saving the planet and anyone who stands in his way is “signing the death warrant of many Americans.”
This year, biomass plant owner Engie came to the Vermont legislature seeking subsidies to enable continuing burning forests for a small amount of electricity that drives up rates for Vermonters. The state’s leading environmental group Vermont Natural Resources Council, with Bill McKibben on their Advisory Committee, supported it. Bill McKibben did not weigh in. Apparently he prefers to maximize his own carbon footprint by traveling the planet lecturing people about how they have to reduce their carbon footprint.
Try to talk to Bill McKibben about solar and wind energy. He treats it as a personal attack as though his feeling are hurt. He can endlessly rattle off statistics about climate change. But, when asked the question about who funds 350.org, he acted stupid, or as though it wasn’t relevant.
I looked up 350.org’s 990s and learned that in 2017 the organization had $19 million in funding. Over a five year period, the organization’s funding was $66 million. It is reasonable to expect Bill McKibben to know its source.
Please do not feel sorry for Bill McKibben. He and his enablers doth protest too much.
Yes, “Planet of the Humans” was too kind to the renewablists. It is all about the money. “Climate emergency” activists and their funders are doing a lot of damage to the planet by focusing only on CO₂, proclaiming wind and solar will save the planet, distracting us from the overarching issues of pollution, population and over-consumption that are killing our planet.
—Annette Smith, May 19, 2020, vermontersforacleanenvironment.wordpress.com
Author: Hamilton, Sofia; et al.
Wind-plant performance declines with age, and the rate of decline varies between regions. The rate of performance decline is important when determining wind-plant financial viability and expected lifetime generation. We determine the rate of age-related performance decline in the United States wind fleet by evaluating generation records from 917 plants. We find the rate of performance decline to be 0.53%/year for older vintages of plants and 0.17%/year for newer vintages of plants on an energy basis for the first 10 years of operation, which is on the lower end of prior estimates in Europe. Unique to the United States, we find a significant drop in performance by 3.6% after 10 years, as plants lose eligibility for the production tax credit. Certain plant characteristics, such as the ratio of blade length to nameplate capacity, influence the rate of performance decline. These results indicate that the performance decline rate can be partially managed and influenced by policy.
Sofia D. Hamilton, Dev Millstein, Mark Bolinger, Ryan H. Wiser, Seongeun Jeong
Energy Technologies Area, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, California
Joule 4, 1–17 (2020). doi: 10.1016/j.joule.2020.04.005
Download original document: “How does wind project performance change with age the United States?”
Author: Court of Common Pleas, Carbon County, Pa., Civil Division
28. Atlantic Wind has failed to produce sufficient evidence and failed to sustain its burden to show that the proposed Wind Turbine project will comply with section 402.A.54.p of the Zoning Ordinance.
29. As Atlantic Wind has failed to meet its burden of proof and persuasion regarding the specific requirements of the Zoning Ordinance for wind turbines, no presumption has arisen that Atlantic Wind’s proposed use is consistent with the health, safety and general welfare of the community.
30. Although we find that no burden has shifted to the Objectors to present evidence and persuade this Court that the proposed use will generate adverse impacts not normally generated by such use and that these impacts would pose a substantial threat to the health and safety of the community, the Objectors presented credible expert testimony and scientific evidence that the proposed use will have a detrimental effect on the health, safety and welfare of the community. …
38. The current principal use of the proposed Project Area is for the production of potable water.
39. The proposed wind turbine project would be an additional principal use in the Project Area. ( Zoning Ordinance, section 306.B.1).
40. Unless Bethlehem Authority ceases to use the Project Area for the production of potable water, the Wind Turbine Project would constitute a second principal use within a residential district in violation of section 801.B.2 of the Zoning Ordinance.
41. As Atlantic Wind does not meet the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance relative to the proposed use and does not challenge the validity of the Zoning Ordinance nor seek to have the property re-zoned, the application for a special exception to permit wind turbines in an R-1 zoning district must be denied.
42. Having failed to meet its burden of production and persuasion concerning its request for a special exception to permit wind turbines in an R-1 zoning district, Atlantic Wind’s second request for a special exception to permit an operations and safety building as a use not specifically provided for (and not prohibited) in any of the zoning districts is rendered moot and denied.
43. Having failed to meet its burden of production and persuasion concerning its request for a special exception to permit wind turbines in an R-1 zoning district, Atlantic Wind’s request for an interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance relative to the proposed permanent meteorological towers being permitted as either integral parts of the wind turbine use or as accessory uses or structures which are customary and incidental to the wind turbine use is rendered moot and denied.
44. Having failed to meet its burden of production and persuasion concerning its request for a special exception to permit wind turbines in an R-1 zoning district, Atlantic wind’s request for a special exception to permit the permanent meteorological towers as a use not specifically provided for (and not prohibited) in any of the zoning districts is rendered moot and denied. …
As Atlantic Wind has failed to demonstrate that the sound produced by the proposed wind turbines will not exceed forty-five (45) A-weighted decibels and that there will be only one (1) principal use on the proposed project area, Atlantic wind has failed to meet its burden of persuasion that the proposed wind turbine project will comply with all the objective requirements for a special exception to be granted under the Penn Forest Township Zoning Ordinance. Therefore, the deemed approval of Atlantic Wind’s application for a special exception must be vacated and we will enter the following
ORDER OF COURT
AND NOW, to wit, this 21st day of April, 2020, upon consideration of Appellants’ land use appeal and the oral argument of counsel thereon, our review of the record created before the Penn Forest Township Zoning Hearing Board and the Referee appointed by this Court, the briefs of the parties, and the report of the Referee, and in accordance with our Memorandum Opinion bearing even date herewith, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED as follows:
1. The land use appeal of Phillip C. Malit sch and Christopher Mangold is GRANTED;
2. The deemed approval of the application of Atlantic Wind, LLC, for a special exception under the Penn Forest Township Zoning Ordinance is VACATED; and
3. The application of Atlantic Wind, LLC for special exceptions under the Penn Forest Township Zoning Ordinance is DENIED.
Download original document: “Malitsch and Mangold v. Penn Forest Township Zoning Hearing Board”
Laboratory study on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep: results of the polysomnographic WiTNES study
Author: Smith, Michael; et al.
Study Objectives: Assess the physiologic and self-reported effects of wind turbine noise (WTN) on sleep.
Methods: Laboratory sleep study (n = 50 participants: n = 24 living close to wind turbines and n = 26 as a reference group) using polysomnography, electrocardiography, salivary cortisol, and questionnaire endpoints. Three consecutive nights (23:00–07:00): one habituation followed by a randomized quiet Control and an intervention night with synthesized 32 dB LAEq WTN. Noise in WTN nights simulated closed and ajar windows and low and high amplitude modulation depth.
Results: There was a longer rapid eye movement (REM) sleep latency (+16.8 min) and lower amount of REM sleep (−11.1 min, −2.2%) in WTN nights. Other measures of objective sleep did not differ significantly between nights, including key indicators of sleep disturbance (sleep efficiency: Control 86.6%, WTN 84.2%; wakefulness after sleep onset: Control 45.2 min, WTN 52.3 min; awakenings: Control n = 11.4, WTN n = 11.5) or the cortisol awakening response. Self-reported sleep was consistently rated as worse following WTN nights, and individuals living close to wind turbines had worse self-reported sleep in both the Control and WTN nights than the reference group.
Conclusions: Amplitude-modulated continuous WTN may impact on self-assessed and some aspects of physiologic sleep. Future studies are needed to generalize these findings outside of the laboratory and should include more exposure nights and further examine possible habituation or sensitization.
Michael G Smith, Mikael Ögren, Pontus Thorsson, Laith Hussain-Alkhateeb, Eja Pedersen, Jens Forssén, Julia Ageborg Morsing, Kerstin Persson Waye
University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology, Lund University, Sweden
Sleep, 25 March 2020, doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa046
Download original document: “A laboratory study on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep: results of the polysomnographic WiTNES study”