My name is Liv Barker, my husband is Garth Chojnowski, and as of April 1, 2019, we are purchasers of a house in Scotia. CA. We are not scientists, but environmentally concerned elder artists, as well as a veteran, who have made a huge investment in our new community, and are gravely concerned about the impending windmill Terra-Gen project on Bear and Monument Ridges in Humboldt County, CA.
Though my husband has been a California resident for many years, my heritage for centuries is Appalachia, and I was at ground zero of the water poisoning that concerned the Kanawha River Valley in January of 2014. I have also watched my mountains ravaged by strip mining, seen the reports of illnesses associated with water shed poisoning from coal mines, and sobbed when my fellow Appalachians were killed from industrial negligence. My history of being impacted by industrial projects is valid.
The Terra-Gen project analysis is greatly errored. We start with Terra-Gen themselves, who are a mega industrial conglomerate of venture capitalists who hired a company that works for oil concerns to assess the environmental impact of this project. They have a history of attempting projects like this in poorer communities, and losing to Native Americans who have had to fight the environmental impact (see 2011 Pahnamid Project). I suspect this is partially why Terra-Gen has put this project on the fast lane, pushing the approval through, despite the monumental lack of impact analysis on our lives, with a purposely confusing Environmental Impact Report that is so full of bewildering jargon the average reader cannot comprehend. There are also corporate tax incentives for them to build now and complete next year.
Environmentally, there are several concerns. First, the virgin redwood timber cut to complete this project is massive; you could theoretically build approximately 12,000 new homes. The concrete pads poured are forever, thus the soil, ecosystem and water shed will be forever negatively impacted. Although this project boasts a decrease in greenhouse gases, the analysis is flawed because it does not mention the ONE MILLION gallons of diesel fuel that will be used to build 60 windmills, plus the oil used within the windmills for their 30 year life span. The 90’ trucks deployed to complete this mission will be making approximately 14,000 trips to the ridge through roads that will have to be widened at least triple their size, thus poisoning our air and forest with further emissions, not to mention accidents that will undoubtedly occur. Terra-Gen also is flawed in their analysis of our visual environment, as they claim that most of Humboldt will not see the project results, whereas the actual build is on a ridge famous for the spectacular distance views, not to mention the amount of lights that are going to flood this project at night, diminishing our clear night sky views we enjoy when the clouds allow us. These concerns will destroy what we all love about this County, while they take conspicuous useless action ostensibly to encourage support for what they deem our moral obligation to greenhouse gas decreases; let us destroy your environment or you are complicit in destroying the earth.
All that I’ve mentioned so far is enough to halt this project, but the largest negative impact that we can see will be wind turbine noise (WTN) caused by the vibrations produced by these 60 windmills. There is very limited scientific data that exists on the association between noise from wind turbines and health, but there is some. Even though we are considered rural, thus this is why they boast that the impact will be minimal at best; they do not address the impact on vibrations on wildlife, soil, trees, and shed water. Life is not solitarily defined by the ability to speak English; they have ostensibly ignored that life is everything in our environment that thrives. We are all aware that our domesticated animals hear and feel on an entirely different level than humans, and wildlife is no exception. In a study published on March 13, 2019, it concluded that WTN is associated with an increase in sleep medication and antidepressants especially among the elderly, suggesting that long-term WTN may potentially be associated with sleep and mental health (https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp3909), and in another study, short term residential penetrating WTN at night was associated with an increase in myocardial infarction and stroke in the elderly (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412017317889). A 2013 review concluded that there is some evidence that infrasound (too low to hear) can affect the vestibular system (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23331380), and a study in 2014 concluded that exposure to WTN increased the risk of annoyance and self-reported sleep disturbances (https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/health-effect-of-wind-turbines/). A 2015 review concluded there is some evidence that exposure to WTN and its negative impact on those around it warranted serious investigation (https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/health-effect-of-wind-turbines/). The limitations on all of these studies are that most are observational. People who live near and suffer are not random, and there is no way to blind subjects to their proximity, thus making data elemental at best, but, this should not diminish the impact they are showing to occur. Thus you can, by simply drawing a straight line in logic, conclude that if they affect humans, they affect all life, even as insignificant as microorganisms which our ecosystem so heavily relies on. Infrasound will release metals from the soil, and our ecosystem will essentially collapse, thus creating a permanent scar on our entire environment, one that includes our precious bears, fish, and sacred Condor which is being released in this area. That clearly is against California law (https://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/t_e_spp/), and this is being ignored.
Financially, there are concerns as well to all who live in or near Scotia. Property values, County tax increases to pay for upgrades to roads, PG&E base pay rate increases to pay for substation upgrades to handle the increased load, and no tax incentives for the community that is being most affected. The electricity will be going on the grid, which means that we will not see any benefit to ruining our environment. The jobs will be temporary construction, most likely governed by outside experts, and the 15 jobs boasted to be ongoing are all going to be specialists brought in from other areas, unless they are including janitorial, but most likely, that will be subcontracted. The county is being paid $2 million dollars for this intrusion per year, for the life of the project, which they claim is 30 years. They are selling our health, environment, and peace of mind on the cheap.
I encourage all, as soon as you read this, to participate in community meetings, sign petitions, and contact your area publications, as well as delivering letters to the Humboldt Wind Energy Project Planner, County of Humboldt Planning Department, 3015 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501 or write electronically to CEQAResponses@co.humboldt.ca.us. You have until 5pm June 14th, 2019.
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