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Massachusetts’ official: wind energy moratorium not necessary

Windwise-Massachusetts, a citizen group opposed to wind energy development, has requested a state-wide moratorium on industrial-scale wind energy development until an expert panel convened jointly by the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Environmental Protection have had time to analyze all available data and produce their report on the potential human health impacts of large wind turbines. What does the state think about that?

WCAI summer intern Jack Rodolico – a name you’ll be seeing more frequently in coming weeks – spoke with Steven Clarke of the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs earlier today, and asked exactly that:

JR: Do you see any benefit in slowing the rapid proliferation of wind turbines in Massachusetts with this sort of moratorium?

SC: “Not at all. The administration has developed some very ambitious goals for wind energy in response to some of the very serious climate change and public health problems that conventional fossil fuels pose for Massachusetts and the country at large. And, as I mentioned before, in the United States there’s over 40,000 megaWatts of wind energy installed, which is tens of thousands of wind turbines. And, in advance of us announcing our wind goal, we did a lot of research … to really look at all aspects of wind energy, including the public health aspects. And, to date, we have found no scientific evidence that wind energy poses a public health threat to people in the Commonwealth or anyone in the country. We’ve also developed robust citing standards to make sure that abutters and other people living nearby wind turbines will not suffer from excessive noise or any other public health issues. So at this stage of the game I don’t see any reason for a moratorium.”

Just to clarify, there are no state-wide wind turbine citing regulations, as the Massachusetts Wind Energy Siting Reform Act (currently pending in the state legislature) states:

There are no statewide siting standards, so wind energy developers do not know what criteria they need to meet in order to develop a wind facility;

The expert panel considering potential health impacts is part of a state-level process to develop more robust guidelines for wind energy development.