Monday, July 30, 2007

An Open Letter to Mr. Patrick Lowry

This is an open letter to Mr. Patrick Lowry, publisher and editor of the Hays Daily News, from Jacinta Faber.

Dear Mr. Lowry,

I am writing this letter in response to your commentary, “Weather more tame than wind arguments”, in the Hays Daily News of July 15, 2007. There were several errors made in your comments concerning my part in opposing the proposed wind project. One is a technical one. The quote you used from my open letter was published in the Ellis County Environmental Awareness blog (this blog) and was never published in the HDN, though you claimed all of your quotes came from the HDN.

The other mistake is the more important one. You took out of context my suggestion that a breach of journalistic ethics had been committed by the HDN with the endorsement of the wind project. If you read my letter more closely, you will find that my concern has been and continues to be your written support of the project early on in the debate. Newspapers, including the HDN, have a long history of taking editorial positions and backing political candidates. However, the endorsement comes at the end of the campaign--certainly not at the beginning. If you were to do endorse a candidate early in a campaign, your action would suggest that any subsequent coverage might be reflecting your editorial position and not be as objective as possible. I believe that your early endorsement of the industrial wind project negatively affected the coverage of this highly controversial issue.

Mr. Lowry, you seem to confuse constructive criticism with a personal attack. My intention is not to attack but to question what appears to be problematic media coverage. You have a gold mine of potential stories to investigate, beginning with David Yearout, the consultant for the zoning commission, to the obvious conflict of interest within the zoning commission along with irregularities in following the zoning regulations. Instead, you rely on a “ he said, she said” form of journalism with little concern for the validity of the claims.

I understand that investigative reporting may be a thing of the past for small town newspapers and that your profit comes from advertising. You may not want to bite the hand that feeds you, but it causes me to wonder: what is the purpose of the HDN’s existence? Arguably, the industrial wind project is the biggest story to hit Ellis County. I believe you are missing a golden opportunity to do some real investigative journalism and actually make a difference in the lives of those residing in Ellis County. It is probably too late for that, but it is never too late to learn from your mistakes.

Jacinta Faber

Saturday, July 28, 2007

All projects should well-placed & thoroughly collaborated with everyone affected

This letter was submitted by Ellis County resident, Penny Davis:

The Hays Daily News reporting of CPV’s compensation offer to those living in the project area begs further reporting of the facts and requires much clarification.

My husband and I are property owners in the proposed project area. We have not received one visit, telephone call or letter, offering us any sort of compensation. I can’t say they haven’t approached anyone, but ask many of the landowners opposed to the project location, and they will likely tell you of an experience similar to ours.

We have attempted to host conversations with the CPV and leasing landowners in the area. We began by sending a letter to all of the individuals living in the project area and those who had signed leases with CPV shortly after we found out about the project.

Interestingly, we were made aware of the project when a friend emailed us the map submitted by CPV, with our house in the middle of around 10 turbines. Yes, that’s right, no disclosure when we bought our home several months before the application, and no effort by CPV or leasing landowners to work with us or even inform us of the application.

In response to our letter to request dialogue with our neighbors regarding our questions and concerns, we received many civil phone calls from neighbors opposed to the location of the project.

We only received one phone call from a leasing landowner. During this call, we were threatened, peppered with insults, and told in no uncertain terms to mind our own business. The project manager did call us after being told we were sending letters to the community. She met with my husband one time. During that conversation she informed him that there was no money in the project budget for any sort of compensation to offset our losses.

In our attempts to visit face to face with other landowners supportive of the project they insisted that this discussion take place after the issue has been resolved by the county. Further, a few of our neighbors also opposed to this location, have described to us their experience of being harassed by CPV or their representatives on Memorial Day weekend.

This distasteful behavior prompted many of us in the area to seek legal protection and request that future communication originated by CPV include our legal counsel.

It continues to be very disturbing to me that CPV makes statements to the press that are so different from our experience with this project. Even more disturbing is that the HDN will take the word of the project manager and print it as if it were absolute fact.

CPV has not made the good faith effort to genuinely work through the multitude of issues inherent in placing this project so close to so many homes before (or for that matter even after) the project was proposed.

Proximity to transmission lines is no excuse for the bad location. Transmission lines transmit, which means they run great distances across unpopulated land.

Other wind projects recognize this fact, and place their turbines in isolated rural areas, not close to cities.

It is vital that the Commissioners take the step to deny this application.

This will allow appropriate and much-needed revisions to be made to the zoning regulations before consideration of another application. Perhaps it will also send the message to CPV-Iberdrola and future applicants, that the citizens of Ellis County will not be manipulated or divided.

We will only support a project well founded, well placed and thoroughly collaborated with everyone affected.

Submitted by:
Penny Davis
1083 210th Ave.
Hays, KS 67601

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Concessions on wind farm not a reasonable expectation

by J.P. Michaud
(submitted to Hays Daily News, July 26)

Public appeals for concessions by opposing sides in the wind farm debate seem futile. I am sure that everyone embroiled in the controversy would love to find comfortable 'middle ground' that would restore peace among neighbors in the project area. But I can't imagine where this middle ground could possibly be found.

You either like the appearance of wind turbines, or you don't. A handful of landowners will either get rich at the expense of their neighbors, or they won't. Many more rural residents who value their peace and quiet in the country will either see their property values plummet and their quality of life destroyed, or they won’t. Hays will either be permanently blighted with an ugly industrial development sprawling over 10,000 acres, or it won't. There is no middle ground, just as there is no apparent limit to the lies and misrepresentations of wind industry developers hungry to harvest our tax dollars in the name of saving the planet.

Proponents can talk all they want about the concessions they are willing to make, the compensation packages they are willing to negotiate, the conditions they would be willing to accept, but it is all too little, too late. These things might have been elements of an open, honest development proposal some 2-3 years ago, but they weren't because it wasn't. Now they amount to nothing more than a desperate strategy of damage control as proponents scramble to try and salvage their investment, an investment that hinged all along on the arrogant assumption they could manipulate county zoning to suit their own ends. At this point, these are not concessions but merely ploys to try and whittle away at the unity of opponents. The only concession with any meaning is required of opponents - the acceptance of a wind farm - a concession that has been soundly rebuked by the majority of affected landholders who have nothing to gain from it and everything to lose.

Why should the opponents, the defenders, be expected to consider concessions from their attackers, simply because they are under attack? A good analogy would be a request to divert water from a public river to fill a private lake. When those losing water downstream protest, the applicant proposes a 'concession' in which the size of his lake is reduced. The real concession is still that required from those losing water downstream - the applicant has only volunteered to reduce the amount of his thievery, rather than forgo the theft. A wind farm of any kind in the proposed location will rob Hays of many other sources of revenue and all manner of future development opportunities, most of which cannot be imagined by the community at present.

The wind farm is either acceptable in its proposed location, or it isn't. You either buy into the propaganda of those parties with financial interests in this aggressive development, or you support the rights of opponents to live in peace and preserve their homes, their families, and their quality of life. Pick a side.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Location Matters & Other Ways to Save Energy

This letter was submitted by Mary Barnes, resident of Ellis County, Kansas

Location, location, location.

This phrase is frequently used among Realtors and business owners. When a real estate agent is attempting to sell a parcel of land or home, the prospective buyer is enticed with a prime location, whether it is next to the children's school, place of employment, a beautiful park or the hustle and bustle of a shopping district. When a business owner wants to move their business into a new building, again it is all about location and whether or not it will draw customers to make the most profit.

But when those of us who may be forced to live among the turbines are protesting the conditional-use permit, we are told we shouldn't worry about the location.

Location seems to be of critical importance to CPV/Iberdrola. These industrial wind developers are locating their efforts to the U.S. because Europe does not want them any more. Adverse impacts to our landscape and health can no longer be denied.

Yes, location is of equal importance to many homeowners. We are called NIMBYs because we don't like the location.

No, I personally don't want them in my backyard, frontyard or anywhere else in Ellis County.

As far as the $600,000 per year payment in lieu of taxes goes, we were all doing fine before and we will go on being fine after this project is blown out of Ellis County. Ellis County is a nourishing county that is a great "little county" with quality and heart.

We don't need CPV/Iberdrola in our community to destroy what we have come to treasure.

Simple steps are truly green.

If we are concerned about dependency on fossil fuel, greenhouse effect and general well-being of our natural resources, I ask you HDN reader: What are you personally doing to help these energy issues? There are many things we as concerned citizens of the earth can do if we are willing to do them to be earth friendly. For instance:

* Use high-efficiency energy light bulbs.

* Turn your thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter.

* Ride bikes whenever possible or walk.

* Barbecue or use a crock pot or microwave instead of using the stove or oven.

* Use cold water to wash your clothing; cold-water detergents work effectively.

* The next time you buy a vehicle, make sure it gets the best gas mileage you can afford; don't buy just because you like the looks.

* Turn lights and TVs off when you are not using them.

* Hang clothes on a clothesline instead of using the dryer.

* Use fans and ceiling fans instead of turning on the AC at the first sign of heat.

* Turn heat down 5 to 10 degrees at night during the winters when you are not home or sleeping. Use thermal blankets to keep yourself warm.

* Recycle. Kansas is the worst state in the U.S. for its contribution to recycling. Many products that are made from non-recycled items use much more CO2 to manufacture than the same products made with recycled items.

* Stay at home or in Kansas to vacation, instead of driving or flying across the U.S. or to another country.

* Carpool to work whenever you can; children can take turns carpooling with neighboring friends.

Maybe you can do 10 or even more of the suggestions. Perhaps you have other ways to save energy. These are not threatening to our well-being, physically, mentally nor monetarily. Get everyone in your family involved in energy conservation.

Let's all pitch in to make a difference. We can save more energy than the 140 plus turbines could ever produce. We all must do what we can to quench our thirst of fossil fuel and not depend on a select few to carry the burden. If we would all be a little more saving of our energy, in the long run we would not be tearing apart our community and friendships.

Mary Barnes
615 Munjor Road
Hays, Kansas

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

There's Nothing Farm-Like About Turbines

This letter was submitted to the HDN by Hays resident, Michael Fellows, in July 2007:

On July 17, I had the opportunity to drive to Copeland for business. I hadn't been on Highway 56 for several years. I was shocked that after leaving Kinsley I could see many huge structures looming on the horizon.

It wasn't hard to realize that I was looking at the wind farm I had been reading so much about.

As I drove on, I was less amazed and more distraught that anyone would call what I saw, a farm. My uncle is a farmer and his farm doesn't look anything at all like what I saw. The words wind and farm conjure up a friendly pastoral connotation. An image that is harmonious with nature.

What I saw is an industrial wasteland. Row after row of huge machines placed menacingly along the highway. They evoke images of the future and the "Terminator," a science-fiction/horror film. It doesn't look anything at all like a farm. The vista looks like a factory, a huge money-making, profit-sucking corporate machine.

There weren't any farm hands working the area. Machine after machine of cold hard steel and there was no one working.

How does that benefit the area?

They are a distraction to drive by as one wonders who would do that to the land, and why? If we need to make an economic impact on the land why not put in pig farms and raise animals? At least we would only notice it if the wind was blowing from the west, but at least we could in clear conscience call them "farms."

The scene was repeated later at Montezuma, but the machines were somewhat smaller. I can see why they are placed there. No one lives there. No one has property to take advantage of a view or a lifestyle.

What they did in those areas bears little resemblance to what they will do to the people who live in and around Hays. Those huge monsters will rob the people of Hays and the surrounding area of one of the few natural gifts we have in Ellis County: our "view." It is the view that was enjoyed by people who settled in this area long before us.

Those early settlers were true stewards of the land. They raised animals and crops in the area. Those people improved the area rather then destroying it by greed and misinformation promoting a sense of progress.

Arriving in Copeland, I visited with my client and remarked about what I had seen. She would only say she was glad she didn't have to look at the turbines or have them spoiling what she had come to enjoy.

Without having made the trip, I would have never been aware at how surreal or even frightening the turbines must be to live under and with.

To have huge 40-story machines towering on the western skyline of Hays, tells everyone who will visit Hays, that we forfeited a precious resource, God's grand landscape, and it was done for money. Not green energy, but greed energy.

When our heritage of our homes and lives is ruined, what will the people of Hays do?

Michael Fellows
2725 B Augusta Lane
Hays, Kansas

Friday, July 13, 2007

Neighbors Have Rights

Submitted by Hays resident, Tammy Deterding

(I am writing in response to a Hays Daily article of July 3, "Commissioners Deal with Zoning Permits." A local businessman proposed to place an automotive repair shop on his land north of Hays.)

The commissioners, in an attempt to enlighten this gentleman about the possible pitfalls of establishing a business of this nature in Ellis County, had questions concerning the amount of "junk vehicles" that may accumulate on his property. It appears that the commissioners were expressing concern for the landowners surrounding the gentleman's property, specifically their view of the property from their homes.

One commissioner stated, "My concern ... if we get a bunch of vehicles out there, we are going to have people complaining." Thank you commissioners for acknowledging that aesthetic problems are good grounds for rejecting a zoning change.

The commissioners made nine vehicles the limit. That means placed end to end, the total length of the chain would be about 135 feet, based on the average of three of the vehicles I measured.

If the commissioners are saying that the junk vehicles would be too big of a visual obstruction for the people in northern Ellis County, would it not follow that the commissioners would extend the same respect to the one hundred families to the southwest of Hays facing the possibility of having 140 wind turbines 400 feet tall placed very near their homes?

The commissioners asked another land owner to clarify his intended use of his land for recreational purposes. I guess it would make a difference if the recreational use involved a few sand volleyball pits or a race track.

Again, it all comes down to respect for your neighbors, those who have to look at, listen to and live by proposed land development.

I am reassured in knowing that not only do the landowners have rights, but also those that live by them. Their rights deserve to be protected, too.

Tammy Deterding
1145 Pine Ridge Drive
Hays, Kansas

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Division and Discourse

"Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of emotion."
- Robert Quillen

Over the last few months, I, along with many others have been engaged in a public dialogue concerning the proposed industrial wind turbine development in Ellis County. As a concerned citizen and landowner in the proposed area, I have reviewed a plethora of information regarding the wind industry, wind turbines and the effect they seem to have on people and communities. For many reasons, I am decidedly against the current project and its current location. Though I am tempted to enumerate these reasons and the evidence behind them, my efforts here must be focused on matters infinitely more important.

Thomas Jefferson is said to have lived his life in accordance to his statement; ”I have never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friendship.” I have taken this Jeffersonian charge seriously in my own life and have attempted to appreciate and understand human diversity in culture, values and opinions.

As a result, I have been rewarded with a broad menagerie of friendships, colleagues and perspectives that I otherwise would not have given a second glance. In fact, many of my closest friends do not share my religious or political leanings, yet we are able to find and relish in our common ground.

To be honest, I do not always live up to this lofty goal. When I feel threatened or vulnerable, it is quite tempting to encamp in an ideology or emotion. It becomes easier to demonize the opposition and react in the spirit of a phrase popularized by a leading political figure of our time, “You’re either with us or against us”. This “us versus them” mentality creates a cavernous schism, separating us from people with whom we share goals, interests and opinions. Furthermore, it renders it almost impossible to understand or appreciate them.

The proposal to place an industrial wind development just outside of Hays has split our community deeply. Many people have developed and espoused impassioned arguments over the proposal. These passions have lead to irresponsible behavior among some and alienated others entirely.

This debate is perhaps one of the most important public decisions we will make as a community in our lifetime. It is imperative that we discuss the issues with one another to reach a reasonable conclusion. As we do however, we must resist the temptation to let our fears and personal interests dictate our tactics. If we honestly engage in rational dialogue, we will surely find that we are all closer together than we otherwise imagine.

Most all of us are concerned about the environment and our impact on it. We are almost all for renewable energy and conservation of our natural resources. We all desire to see our community economically vibrant and socially enriched. We may not agree on every issue, but we can agree to stand above the temptation to cut one another down, in the effort to advance our own position.

I understand there is much at stake. There are local individuals who stand to gain or lose financially. Some local individuals fear for the health of their families. Many community members want to be involved in trying to stem the tide of the rampant consumption of resources. There are also national and global players with a stake in the outcome of this debate that stand to gain or lose large sums of money and influence. These factors provide a strong allure to use whatever means necessary to win.

Such a Pyrrhic victory will come with tremendous cost to individuals and to the community at large. Wind developments in other communities have been adopted and denied without tearing apart the fabric of the community. This community can also make the decision to value each other more than our windy agendas.

To begin this effort in joining together as a community, I would like to invite CPV Wind Hays and the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition to participate in a public conversation. Each group could choose three individuals that have represented them in their community education efforts to advocate for their position. A neutral representative in the community could moderate the discussion to assure an impartial forum. Such a forum could be televised to the community and emphasize the issues at hand with a unity of purpose.

Let’s not lose sight of our common ground. Let’s stand together and discuss our differences. Let’s make this about discourse, not division.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ECEAC Press Release 07-11-07

The ECEAC would like to take this opportunity to express our disapproval and concern over the personal attacks, vandalism and irresponsible accusations that have been reported in the Hays Daily News over the last few weeks.

Recently, we were disappointed to learn that the HDN wrongly implicated us in one such issue that grew from an exchange between two individuals in the HDN community forum. The ECEAC not only refrained from becoming involved in this trivial argument, but encouraged others to refrain from involvement as well.

From the beginning of the proposed industrial wind development in Ellis County, the ECEAC has been committed to openly discussing the many pertinent issues. In our efforts to educate the community we have intentionally avoided personal attacks and inflammatory language. We were saddened to read recently that the project manager of CPV Wind Hays was quoted in the Hays Daily using language that does not reflect the same commitment to respecting those who do not fully agree with her.

Though this issue has deeply divided our community, we believe there are well meaning, intelligent and rational individuals on both sides. Unfortunately, there have also been incidents of irresponsible behavior that serve no purpose in an open debate.

The health and safety, economic, environmental and social impacts of this proposed project are far from resolved. As the community continues to explore these concerns, the ECEAC will pursue the central issues responsibly and respectfully. We implore everyone involved to do likewise.

Regardless of one’s opinion of this project or the ultimate decision reached by the commissioners, the citizens of Ellis County need to continue to live and work together in harmony. Please proceed with this in mind.

The Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition is a group of concerned citizens dedicated to preserving the natural rural environment of Ellis County, Kansas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hays Daily News a Disgrace to Journalism Ethics

(submitted to the Hays Daily News July 10 - appearing who knows when)

Under Patrick Lowry, the Hays Daily News has become a sham of ethical journalism. One is forced to wonder just how many shares of Iberdrola Mr. Lowry has purchased. He has given them the most favorable coverage possible since the very beginning of our community’s struggle against this corporation.

Mr. Lowry has assigned the most junior and inexperienced of his reporters to cover this most important debate, and seems to continually editorialize their articles to massage the message to his liking.

When opponents paid four figure fees for half page ads in the HDN, these were intentionally placed immediately adjacent to glossy editorials championing the proponent’s cause.

While Krista Gordon’s lies and misrepresentations have been quoted ad nauseum in ‘articles’ covering the debate, opponents’ quotes were rarely published and often mangled or taken out of context. I mentioned to Will Manly that I wanted to examine my tower photos further before sharing them. This is somehow translated into me ‘working on them some more’ as if I am trying to photo-shop them.

The HDN gave front page coverage to a threatening sign and implied it was the responsibility of wind farm opponents without any evidence it was even linked to the debate or comprised anything more than a personal slight toward an individual widely despised since the imposition of county-wide zoning.

Opponents often wait as long as a week to see their letters in print, effectively diminishing the impact and relevance of their rebuttals. Proponent Dana Kraus is able to write satirical drivel about events on Saturday and have it appear in Monday’s paper, together with letters we submitted last Wednesday.

Every article published in the HDN that details the risks to Ellis County of embracing this industry somehow manages to end with a positive twist for the proponents and effectively equate industry propaganda with valid, independent research findings, the vested interests of proponents notwithstanding.

It bears remembering that, were we to have relied on the editorial wisdom of the Hays Daily News 18 years ago, we would all now be living in the shadow of a lead smelter and everyone born in Ellis County under the age of 17 would have had an elevated risk of birth defects.

There is a term for the subversion of democracy to serve the ends of those in power.

There is a term for the subjugation of the common people so that a privileged elite class may profit at their expense.

That term is ‘fascism’.

Fascism is alive and well in Ellis County and the Hays Daily has become its primary public relations tool.

Environmental Justice is the Issue

Posted by Angie Grant, July 9, 2007

In his effort to promote wind energy at the expense of others, Patrick Parke dismisses objectors as NIMBYs and touts the 'greater good' that will be achieved. Opponents are starting to feel as if we have entered an unending game of 'whack-a-mole' - no matter how many times a false assertion is debunked, it pops up again somewhere else with a different face on it.

"… lower property values, health issues, pollution, danger to wildlife, etc. Moving the wind farm doesn’t change a single one [of these]."

Excuse me? Moving it where people don’t live and ecological diversity is low or already damaged changes every one of them.

"…87 percent of the respondents said the government should immediately encourage alternate energy with subsidies and incentives…"

And as usual, the government puts almost all of these subsidies toward one objective - wind power - because it provides the most immediate profit to the biggest corporations with the most powerful lobbyists, regardless of the fact that wind is the least promising of all alternative energy sources and will never meet more than a tiny fraction of our growing demand.

" If we embrace the oil business, how can we even think about rejecting a wind farm?"

Another blatant fallacy. The fact that the oil business was poorly regulated and caused environmental damage in the area can hardly be used as justification for permitting even more ecological degradation by failing to adequately regulate further industrial development.

"Loss of the potential $600,000 annual “payment in lieu of taxes” effectively raises property taxes for every Ellis County taxpayer."

Garbage. Almost any alternative land use conceivable would generate more than this miserable pittance of a bribe.

"The landowners leasing to CPV have been accused of greed. Can we say the same about those fighting to preserve their property values?"

No, we can't. There is a monumental difference between trying to preserve one's existing investment and attempting to generate a new form of revenue at the expense of your neighbors.

"I believe the NIMBY position will raise everyone’s utility rates."

On the contrary, it is the incorporation of expensive and unreliable wind energy that is certain to raise rates - several years down the road when all the subsidies disappear and ratepayers are forced to pick up the slack.

Finally, the objection to NIMBYism in principle is a direct assault on the constitutional rights of every American citizen to "health, welfare and the pursuit of happiness". Nowhere in the constitution does it state that citizens might be required to sacrifice these rights for any 'greater good'. Furthermore, history shows that NIMBY activism is far more likely to result in responsible ecological stewardship and environmental protection than any form of corporate exploitation.

More relevant than NIMBY is the concept of 'Environmental Justice', which demands the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in decisions of large environmental consequence and that states "no one group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences from industrial, municipal and commercial operations."

The wind energy industry continues to deny that their rape of our countryside has any environmental impact whatsoever, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Are we prepared to write them a blank check in Ellis County on the basis of their profit-driven assertions?

Angie Grant

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Just Not Worth the Personal Risks and Sacrifices

The following letter is submitted by Sheryl Butler, a longtime resident of Ellis County, Kansas:

Risk and sacrifices. That has been a recent theme with this wind farm proposal that members of the community as well as some of the zoning members are wanting to stand on. It has been said that progress requires some involvement of risk and that we all (people in and close to the project area) should understand that and will be willing to sacrifice for that cause.

Let me share with you a closer look at the risks and sacrifices that everyone seems to be willing for us to take. My husband Mike and I have been against this project for a variety of reasons that I have shared with letters I have written and the presentation that I have helped give. Those reasons have been outlined as being connected to the loss of our way of life, loss of the beauty of the countryside, loss of property values, etc.

But there is a much bigger reason that we have been watching with interest as to what takes place with this decision. A reason that is very personal and that could be very devastating to our family. A reason that I hoped we would not need to get into and share but with the recent viewpoints and some recent research I think that it is time to get real.

I think that it is important for people to understand just how real this mess is. Many people know my husband, Mike, as he does a lot of work for many people around town with his business. What people may not know is that Mike suffers from an illness he came up with about three years ago. He was referred to the National Jewish Hospital in Denver as they specialize in lung and immune system problems.

Mike has ended up being diagnosed with a rare lung immune sinus disease. Through much diagnosis and consultations that National Jewish has had throughout the country, the only thing that they have been able to do for Mike is to put him on medication to help control his symptoms. Right now, this illness is lying dormant in Mike in that it is not progressing but sits ready to be activated at any time. His doctor likens it to a fire that the flames have been put out but continues to smolder and wait.

Our opposition group has presented the public, zoning members and the county commissioners with many facts and concerns regarding health risks associated with living close to the wind turbines. These facts have been looked at as somewhat petty and over-exaggerated. A new press release has been given to The Hays Daily News and county commissioners regarding some recent research regarding the effects of living near turbines. We just became informed of the details of this research on June 8.

This research clearly shows that many illnesses can be created and/or intensified by wind turbines that are in close proximity to families. Lung damage is one of those possibilities.

If this wind turbine project is allowed to be near homes, the health risks are real. Our family stands to lose much more than just our property value and scenic countryside. I and my two young daughters could lose Mike if this wind complex activates Mike’s disease. If Mike’s disease is activated, he will become very sick and would very likely result in eventual death.

Risk and sacrifices.

How many risks and sacrifices is this community, zoning commission and county commission willing for those of us in and near the project to take?

Is one life expendable? Maybe two?

Are you willing to chance that the research that the opposition has given is bogus? For Mike and I and our two girls, the risks are very real for our family.

Perhaps, if we are talking about sacrifices, maybe the landowners and the county could sacrifice their revenue on this project by donating it to research on the health effects of wind turbines.

That way, all of us would be sacrificing, wouldn’t we?

Submitted by:
Sheryl R. Butler
779 Golf Course Road
Hays, Kansas

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The future of Ellis County depends on it

This letter from local Hays resident, Keith Pfannenstiel, was published in the Hays Daily News, July 5th, 2007:

Previously, I pointed out that the proposed Ellis County wind farm is a big money issue, fueled by the global warming frenzy. I also mentioned the conflicts of interest associated with landowners helping to implement inadequate regulations while holding key positions on the zoning board. I have questioned the total lack of impact studies and proper regulations to protect our citizenry. This project has raised more questions than answers, and the division it has created in our community is perhaps the greatest casualty of the battle.

Unfortunately, people involved in the dispute are fighting several different battles and don’t even realize it.

One battle is fought to protect the belief that wind energy is a viable renewable energy source. Other battle lines are formed around the many questions concerning the potential adverse effects of such a large industrial electrical generation facility. The social and economic impact it has on the community at large, the potential health and safety concerns of individuals living in and around the location, the impact on the natural prairie environment and many other unsettled issues are brought to the front lines. The battle has raged into a multi-front war that has become complicated to such a degree that the original issue seems lost in the fray.

What we must remember is that this battle never was, nor will ever be, for or against alternative energy, but is and will always be about “location.”

The location is what determines the risks to the families directly impacted and the community at large. It is the location more than any other factor that will determine the answers to the questions at hand. The health and safety risks, the economic impacts and the environmental questions are all largely dependent on the location of the project. Furthermore, location is the reason Ellis County adopted countywide zoning.

Countywide zoning begins with a comprehensive plan. This plan provides the vision of the community and it sets forth principles that guide the decisions of the commission. The comprehensive plan is the foundation of the zoning — regulations — a foundation that Ellis County is lacking.

As a result, this issue has become so convoluted that even the county zoning and planning board members didn’t understand their roles.

Instead, as they explained their reasons to vote in favor of the project, they became a casualty of Iberdrola’s massive public image to campaign. Spending vast resources on every front, Iberdrola pushed an agenda to manipulate the controversy, attempting to make it appear that people must either be for or against wind energy.

In doing so, they have camouflaged the real issues associated with this industrial development.

This is not a “once in a lifetime,” “now or never” or “one-time only” offer. Operating under that assumption is an extremely dangerous way to make decisions.

With all this in mind, it is imperative that our county commissioners deny this application and impose a moratorium to delay any new applications until we can fix the problems that have come to the surface as a result of this application.

Whether or not we are in favor of renewable energy is not the question.

Nestling an 11,000-acre wind development in the only population center in northwest Kansas places people at risk and uses land that could otherwise contribute to the growth of Hays. To do so is foolhardy and lacks vision. Ellis County can support renewable energy, support the growth of Hays and protect its citizenry — and do it all at the same time.

We must have a comprehensive plan. Without this vision, we have no foundation by which to apply our regulations and no ability to shape our community by determining what the best uses of our resources are.

Once this is accomplished, we need an unbiased committee to reconstruct proper and adequate regulations. There is no argument that there are virtually no statutes regulating wind developer’s actions. It is the county that must protect the citizenry with a strong vision, a comprehensive plan and thorough zoning regulations.

Let’s all hope and pray that our leadership is up to that task. The future of Ellis County depends on it.

Keith Pfannenstiel
974 Mount Pleasant Road
Hays, KS 67601

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Airing our dirty laundry

This is a letter submitted by Jacinta Faber for publication in the Readers Forum of the Hays Daily News:

I am writing in response to Karen Mikol’s column “Time to Inject Respect Into Wind Debate” (July 4). Her main thesis—that we ought to behave civilly in civil society—is a laudable one, but I disagree with one point she makes. Ms Mikols points out that “some residents have stretched the freedom of expression past appropriate limits.” Of course, there are limitations to our free speech here in the United States, limits which have been established by legal precedent, such as speech posing a threat to our national security and speech that is obscene. And defacing signs--a violation of private property rights--goes beyond the limits.

But a public debate concerning the placement of a half-billion dollar industry in Ellis County is not something that should be limited. Such a debate is not only preferable but necessary. Justice Beverly McLachlin of the Canadian Supreme Court in a 1993 ruling described the utility of freedom of speech: “Freedom of speech promotes a market place of ideas, which includes, but is not limited to, the search for truth.” The opposition’s goal is to challenge people’s pre-established beliefs, if they have any, about proper siting of an industrial wind operation and to educate the public on the poor design and execution of the zoning regulations in Ellis County.

Ms. Mikols warns us of airing our dirty laundry by placing signs on I-70. She thinks that being up front may deter businesses from coming into Ellis County. But, of course, people deserve to know what situation they may be stepping into. In public policy decisions, there will be winner and losers, but our right to free speech is necessary to guarantee that the process leading up to the decisions is above board, open and visible to all. The history of this project would indicate that the decision-making has been anything but above board. Since 2002, while people were building homes in the Woodland Plains Addition, CPV and the lease-holders were quietly making big plans to set turbines near the area. According to family members of lease holders, whenever the topic of the potential wind project was broached, silence would ensue. If the company, the lease holders, and even the county commissioners had been more open about the project and courting more input from the community, how different things might be today.

Without freedom of speech, important issues are hidden from the public’s view. When I worked in occupational therapy out of town some years ago, I had a patient who exhibited all the symptoms of Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease, the human form of Mad-Cow Disease. This gentleman had worked in a rendering plant, where he handled the entrails, brains and other parts of the cow. Unbelievably, he and his workmates would sometimes eat the raw brains of a cow. I passed this information on to his physician. There is a definitive test for Creutzfeld-Jacob. The doctor acknowledged the possibility but refused to perform the test, basically stating that we don’t want to go there. Why? We do not want to hurt the beef industry, an industry which is very important to the Kansas economy. Thus we will keep it hidden. Similarly, there is now a documented case of a child’s health being affected by living in near proximity to modern wind turbines. There have been complaints the world over, but the wind industry and those with close ties to it refuse to acknowledge these problems. Why? They want to claim ignorance when problems do arise; they don’t want to air the dirty laundry for fear of the economic consequences.

I say let’s air our dirty laundry. There seems to be plenty of it.

--Jacinta Faber

Monday, July 2, 2007

Vibroacoustic Disease Not a Fabrication

(letter submitted to the Hays Daily News, July 2, 2007)

This editorial is in response to those who have questioned the veracity of viboracoustic disease and ‘wind turbine syndrome’, most recently S.R. Zwenger who asked “can anyone provide published articles on this mysterious and elusive disease?”.

First of all, ‘wind turbine syndrome’ is not yet recognized as a disease, but is a term coined by Dr. Pierpont to encompass an emerging complex of symptoms associated with prolonged exposre to wind turbines that derive from both visual and auditory disturbances. Description of a syndrome is the first stage in the recognition of a disease, whether it arises from biological or physical causes. Thus, the human form of mad cow disease was labelled Creutzfeld-Jacob Syndrome before its cause was identified. However, one component of wind turbine syndrome, vibroacoustic disease (VAD), is already a recognized disease and is known to be caused by low frequency noise (LFN).

Links between wind turbines and VAD have been established in a number of publications by accredited scientists, notably the doctoral dissertation of P. van den Berg at the University of Groningen, Germany and articles in the Journal of Sound and Vibration and the Journal of Low Fequency Noise, Vibration, and Acitve Control. It is an established fact that wind turbines produce LFN - it is only the varying perception of that noise and its propagation under various atmospheric conditions that is still debated.

A search of the database PubMed for ‘vibroacoustic disease’ will produce 37 peer-reviewed articles, the majority published within the past 8 years. It bears remembering that people had been smoking for almost a century before research began establishing a link to lung cancer in the late 1950’s.

Russian doctors in the 1980’s were the first to begin research into what they refered to as ’vibration disease’ in industrial machinists “to develop a system of medical, technical and organizational preventive measures… in order to control noise- and vibration-caused diseases…”. These studies were followed by others that established links between LFN and pathologies observed in textile workers (Cardoso et al. 2006, Rev. Port. Pneumol. 12: 326), the aeronautical industry (Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 2007, 93: 256-279, helicopter pilots (Rev. Port. Pneumol. 2006, 12: 539-544) and other occupations with prolonged LFN exposure.

Recently, a review article summarized 25 years of research on the subject (Rev. Port. Pneumol. 13: 129-135). Furthermore, the respiratory symptoms of VAD in humans have been reliably reproduced in rodents by exposing them to LFN (Lung. 2001, 179:225-232). Based on a comprehensive study of 140 patients (Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 1999, 70: A32-A39) 3 stages of VAD were recognized. Stage I, mild signs (behavioral and mood associated with repeated infections of the respiratory tract, e.g., bronchitis); Stage II, moderate signs (depression and aggressiveness, pericardial thickening and other extracellular matrix changes, light to moderate hearing impairment, and discrete neurovascular disorders); Stage III, severe signs (myocardial infarction, stroke, malignancy, epilepsy, and suicide). And before anyone scoffs at these symptoms, they should consider that the Pentagon spent decades researching LFN for its ‘weaponization’ potential.

Chronic exposure to LFN, similar to that produced by wind turbines, appears to specifically target the respiratory system causing various structural abnormalities to develop, but other pathologies also are significantly increased. These include abnormal function of the auditory lobe of the brain (Rev. Port. Pneumol. 2006, 12: 369-274), immune system impairment (Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 1999 3: A141-A144), cancers of the lung, especially squamous cell carcinoma (Rev. Port. Pneumol. 2006, 12: 539-544) and induction of epileptic seizures (Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 1999, 3: A122-A127).

In case someone contends that these peer-reviewed studies are somehow unreliable because they originate in a European country, let me point out that the US is no longer the international leader in scientific research that it was 50 years ago, and that an increasingly large proportion of scientific research in the US is now conducted by foreign-born scientists (myself included).

Belief can boil down to opinion, as Zwenger notes in his attempt to dismiss Dr. Ottley’s earlier letter, but the opinions of doctors and researchers should be given more weight than the idle musings of lay people, for these are the opinions that actively guide the advancement of science.