Health studies purporting to show there’s no adverse health effects from wind turbines are everywhere these days, it seems. To date I have posted detailed critiques of four of them: Chatham (Colby), AWEA/CanWEA (Colby et al), Ontario CMOH (King) and Australia’s NHMRC. They vary in quality a great deal, from merely bad to just outrageous. But they all have two things in common: (1) none of them has ever wandered into the field to interview either victims or their doctors, and (2) they were all sponsored by someone with either an interest in wind energy or who was publicly committed to it. It is as though the wind industry has come up with a health-effects-denying template that on the face of it is defensible, and that template will get used and reused until it is no longer so.
Maine’s Report was authored by Dr. Dora Mills, who is the head of Maine’s public health service. Keep in mind that her boss, Governor Baldacci, is a serious supporter of wind energy. She claims [backup link] to have researched “several dozen papers and other sources of information” and has concluded “I do not find evidence to support a moratorium on wind turbine projects.”
In common with all these health reports, she sat in her cubicle and googled away, never going out into the field, perhaps afraid to do so lest what she found there might upset her boss. And given Mars Hill and Vinalhaven that was probably smart. So, like the others, her references become important. Exactly where did she look; and maybe more importantly, where did she not look? In her statement there are two references: one is to an expanded version [backup link]that hopefully contains that information; and another to the 2009 Wisconsin Public Service’s Analysis.
I’ll go into more details about the expanded version in part 2 of this series, and probably will write a separate critique of Wisconsin’s Analysis. For now, let’s take a closer look at her original release [backup link]. Below, everything that is italicized is from her release.
The release is dated June 21, 2009 and was short enough, two pages, to be published in a Portland newspaper, the link to which has gone dead. After some introductory material she asks four questions and then proceeds to answer them.
Are there health effects from noise generated by wind turbines?
She admits that the noise “can be very annoying“, but in her review of literature from Europe and Canada she found no evidence of adverse health effects. I guess she doesn’t consider annoyance a health effect. I cheated and looked to her expanded version to see what evidence she was actually using, and to nobody’s surprise it pretty much duplicated what the other 4 health studies did. I’ve gone into more details in my earlier critiques and in my upcoming part 2 I’ll go into more details about Mill’s references and their lack of validity.
Does Maine law assure proper placement of wind turbines from residences?
Mills asserts that “These rules serve to ensure that a turbine is located at a
sufficient distance from homes so there are not annoying levels of noise.” Apparently she is unaware of Mars Hill and Vinalhaven.
What are the health benefits from wind turbines?
There’s an unspoken underlying assumption in her answer – that wind turbines lower emissions. She mentions that the Maine DEP has said that a 5% wind penetration would save ~500,000 tons of co2 each year (actually 464,520). And where does the DEP say that? I looked for half a day and couldn’t find it. UPDATE – I finally came across where the DEP got their numbers. No surprise, they are bogus.
What about a moratorium on wind turbine projects?
Considering the high probability of her losing her job if she came out with a call for a moratorium it was a foregone conclusion that she would not do so. She dismisses all the actual evidence from the field as “non-peer-reviewed” or “misinterpreted“. This is like the pot calling the kettle black. None of her references were a health study and many of them were not peer reviewed either. It must be ok to include just the pro-wind-energy references regardless of the origin.
I’ll have more to say about her results-oriented bias in part 2. For now I can only say that she seems determined to please her boss, and sadly doesn’t seem to care much about her professional responsibilities.