Write-in candidate for governor Annette Smith amped up her rhetoric on wind energy today during an appearance on WDEV-FM's "The Mark Johnson Show," comparing wind turbines to "a terrorist" landing in your community.
"Don't shoot the messenger. I'm sorry, I thought wind was going to be part of the solution," Smith told the radio host. "When you work on the wind issue, and you go into these communities — it's like a terrorist has landed in your community."
Smith, who is waging a write-in campaign as an independent after narrowly losing a write-in campaign for the Progressive nomination, appeared on Johnson's show to talk about her campaign and her choice to remain at the head of the nonprofit advocacy group Vermonters for a Clean Environment, among other topics.
Smith's no stranger to strong words about wind development. In March, she told me developers are "making climate-change victims out of the people who live around the projects" — to which climate change activist Bill McKibben, a supporter of wind development, retorted that there are plenty of people and places around the world that better qualify as victims.
At the crux of Smith's wind-turbine-as-terrorist argument is her concern about possible health and quality of life problems for residents living near the projects.
"When you work on the wind issue and you go into these communities, it's like a terrorist has landed in your community. ... If everything you own, everything you've ever believed in, you've invested in your home and your property and you're threatened with the possibility that you might not be able to live there anymore?" she said on the show. "And we now have hundreds of people in this position, and by January we're going to have more than 1000 people around these three mountains. And it's not going to be everyone, we can't predict in advance who it's going to be, but the noise experts tell me that especially the Lowell project is going to be very, very noisy.
"What I have found is this is a technology that nobody wants to live near," she told Johnson. "The more they learn, the more opposed they become ... It's a very sad story, though, because what I'm dealing with on a daily basis is people who are now sick from the wind turbines."
Like all claims about wind turbines, Smith's concerns about noise and health impacts are hard to parse. Studies abound on both sides of the debate. That's likely why the state of Massachusetts convened an independent panel to investigate health-related concerns about wind turbines. The panel published its findings this past January, and if you're inclined to wade through the tome, you're welcome to it (PDF).
Vermont has conducted no such wind turbine health study, but here's a few choice tidbits from the Massachusetts report:
Most epidemiological literature relates to self-reported "annoyance" — a response the panel found to "be a function of some combination of the sound itself, the sight of the turbine, and attitude towards the wind turbine project."
Sleep disruption is a possible side-effect of proximity to wind turbines.
Aside from annoyance and sleep disruption, there's insufficient evident that noise from turbines is directly causing health problems or disease. Even as close as 68 meters to turbines, the levels of infrasound are well below that required for non-auditory perception (such as a feeling of vibration in parts of the body or pressure in the chest).
There's no evidence to support the existence of so-called "Wind Turbine Syndrome," as reported by some opponents of wind development.