Our climate emergency has spurred all kinds of innovation around alternatives to the combustion of fossil fuels to generate energy. Today's Boston Globe reports on two different streams of that innovation that couldn't be more different.
On the one hand, Jon Chesto reports on the renewable energy innovation by my friends at GE Vernova which happily opened its new world headquarters in Cambridge.
On the other hand, Sabrina Shankman reports on new innovation in the opposition to renewable energy currently on display on Cape Cod. More specifically, Ms. Shankman reports that opponents to the undersea and then underground cables necessary to get energy from the off shore wind turbines that generate it to those of us that will use it are raising concerns about the Electric Magnetic Fields or EMFs that will be emitted by that energy underground on its way from point A to point B.
EMFs have been a cause of concern for decades. You might remember early concerns about what EMFs from your cellular phone were doing to your brain. However, despite countless studies around the globe, there is no evidence that EMFs at the levels present in the vicinity of an above ground or underground transmission line cause any adverse health effects, regardless of how the electricity being transmitted was generated.
On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence of the many deleterious effects Green House Gas induced climate change is having, and will have, on Cape Cod. In fact, there are few places in the United States more at risk.
But the opposition to renewable energy infrastructure is often disconnected from reality. A few years ago, I wrote about NIMBYs on Long Island suing to stop an offshore wind project based on concerns that the related transmission line would disturb contamination in the ground through which it would pass. Those NIMBYs weren't successful in stopping that project on that basis. The folks that have sued to stop the Vineyard Wind project haven't been any more successful, other than in increasing the cost of the project and the time necessary to complete it. I suspect these opponents will be similarly unsuccessful because, as they complain, they don't have the ability to veto renewable energy infrastructure.
It is because all of us would prefer not to have certain things in our backyards that Federal and State law take certain decisions out of local hands. More streamlining of the review of renewable energy projects, not less, is essential if we're to have any chance of getting where we need to get in our response to our climate emergency before it is too late.
On the website for Commonwealth Wind, Avangrid writes that the magnetic field at ground level from the buried cables is "a small fraction of what occurs from overhead power lines, and far smaller than the earth's natural magnetic field."
Chuck Tuttle from Centerville went over his questions before speaking at the public meeting at Barnstable High School. DEBEE TLUMACKI Ultimately, those health concerns — as well as other worries raised by the community — will be reviewed by the state's Energy Facilities Siting Board. And that's another thing that angers many in Barnstable. The decision about where the cables will land was made by the developers with approval from the state, not the town.
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