In 1980, the state legislature adopted the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Act, enacted as an emergency law designed to “encourage and expedite the development of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities which provide adequate safeguards to protect the public health, safety, and environment of the Commonwealth.”
Tuesday (Dec 3, 2013) on Beacon Hill, argument will be heard to encourage and expedite the development of wind energy facilities across the state. It’s proclaimed that a higher order ($) dictates protecting the public health, safety, and environment of the Commonwealth. Even if it should disenfranchise host communities from promoting and preserving their own consent of local character and values.
The outcome of this pending legislation debate rests principally upon one defining criteria. Using the 1980 Siting Act as a template, The Siting Act directed the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to study the risks and impacts of various hazardous waste sources and management technologies and to disseminate information regarding these matters to the public. So to, in January 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) released for public review and comment a Wind Turbine Health Impact Study. After reviewing the study and over 500 public comments, MassDEP concluded that the information currently available suggests the need to consider revisions to MassDEP’s noise regulations and policy to address wind turbine noise (see www.cbuilding.org Oct 26, 2013).
In other words, a campaign will be pressed upon a state committee and the public, despite best information available, an outpouring of comment regarding personal anecdotal experience, and an official position of MassDEP and it’s belief that current noise standards are suspect in their ability to protect health and safety.
Essentially, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Telecommunication, Utilities, and Energy will be asked to over-rule any dismissive permitting scrutiny exercised by local authority to examine risk and potential hazardous wind turbine impact. For what? An environmental ideology and an administration’s alternative energy agenda?
The Wind Energy Siting Reform Act (WESRA), if adopted, will obstruct local board and commission oversight powers granted by local charters. WESRA is just another “strong-arm” piece of legislation directed at usurping “home rule” guarantees. Guarentees, mind you, that are designed to protect the residents of the community.
The wind crucible Falmouth has endured (beginning with the state’s false enchantment of municipal monetary benefit) has produced a viable Wind Turbine Bylaw (APR “13 Town Meeting). WESRA, however, stands to nullify the new bylaw. It will void the voice of the people. This must act as an alarm to Falmouth, as well as to communities across the state designated as high wind production areas.
Fear state legislative “supremacy”! The consequence of wind turbines mistakenly sited, blow communities apart. Look no further than Falmouth – the state’s “flagship” 2010 example of the Cape’s contribution to the ‘Common Good’ !
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