Note: The following letter was originally published in the Kiowa County Press on October 1, 2010 and is reprinted by the request of the original author believing the content is as pertinent today as it was then:
To the Editor:
Since it has come to my attention that there are some in Kiowa County opposed to electric transmission lines, I might add some comments to the debate, and I love to debate.
Let’s begin back in the 1970s when I wrote a paper on energy and wound up being appointed by the Governor to an advisory committee for the Dept. of Energy Denver Office. Does this make me some kind of an energy expert? HECK NO, but it does indicate that it is something that I have always paid attention to.
Let’s look at energy itself to get an idea of where we want to be in the future. Thirty years ago, we (the USA) at 5% of the world population was using 36% of the world’s energy use. Some emerging economies then and now are quite concerned that the US is going to use it all up before they have a chance to grow much. Now some of the worry is directed at China.
Last spring there was a natural gas ad on TV that said their company had a whopping 60-year supply. That is only one generation. Are your grandchildren going to heat their homes with cow chips?
The fact remains that all fossil fuels, primarily coal, oil, and natural gas are a finite supply and the only way that your great, great grand children will have an ample supply is if we conserve NOW.
Just think how silly the “Drill Baby Drill” statements politicians make or made is. This says, “Let’s get it out of the ground and get it used up now, with absolutely no concern for the future.” HOW STUPID!
Thankfully, we have some planners that are looking 50 to 100 years in the future, and regrettably, I fear our legislators long range planning is 2 years at best.
All of this is to say that the current push for renewable energy is probably the best thing we have done in the last 100 years. It is when hundreds of wind projects are tied to a power grid that we have a steady power flow, because the wind is always blowing somewhere. Making this happen will require a lot of new transmission inter connections.
One of the needs of wind energy is storage of excess, and this is being intensely pursued at this time by auto makers and battery companies. When we are driving millions of electric cars to work, those batteries have become the massive storage needed. This also will result in far less need of Mideast oil, and yes it will hurt our fuel business, but the need is huge.
Before we address the foreseen danger of transmission lines, I will comment on the negative renewable statements of Tri-State and SE CO Power. If perhaps, Tri-State is first a coal company and to sell more coal, you build coal fired power plants, it just might explain the negative comments on wind energy, we have heard for the last 15 years from Tri-State and following their lead from SECPA.
Now, let’s talk about EMF’s, electromagnetic fields, from power lines and appliances.
When in Denver last spring for the state track meet, I could not help but notice a very large transmission line crossing the west side of Denver with a very narrow open right of way, the back yard fence of hundreds and perhaps thousands of homes were at the right of way fence. I can’t imagine that the Denver Dept. of Health & Environment would allow this very close proximity of houses if there were any studies confirming a serious danger from EMF’s. The key word here is “confirming”, because by 1990, out of over 100 studies worldwide, only a few suggest a casual link to a carcinogen, but could not prove it.
EMFs are measured by a gauss meter (gM) that can be purchased if one has serious concern. I am now going to quote from natural derived from US EPA publications:
“HOME WIRING: If your home has high EMF readings, it is important to determine the sources of the EMF so that remedial action can be taken, if possible. Many times, a particular room will have a higher EMF reading. Check to see if the electricity is coming into the house on the wall outside that room. When this is the case, it is usually a good idea to block off that room and only use it for storage purposes.
COMPUTERS: Computers are a complicated subject. Know this: EMFs radiate from all sides of the computer. This, you must not only be concerned with sitting in front of the monitor, but also if you are sitting near a computer or if a computer is operating in a nearby room.
The Swedish safety standard, effective 7/11/90, specifies a maximum of 0.25mG @50cm from the display. Many U.S. manufactured computers have EMFs of 5 TO 100mg at this distance. And know this too; the screens placed over monitors do NOT block EMFs. Not even a lead screen will block ELF & VLF magnetic fields.
ELECTRIC BLANKETS & WATERBEDS: Electric blankets create a magnetic field that penetrates about 6-7 inches into the body. Thus, it is not surprising that an epidemiological study has linked electric blankets with miscarriages and childhood leukemia.
This pioneering work was performed by Dr. Nancy Wertheimer and Ed Leeper, who originally discovered that magnetic fields were linked to childhood leukemia. Similar health affects have been noted with users of many electric blankets and waterbed heaters will emit EMFs even when turned off.
The devices must be unplugged to delete the EMF exposure.
ELECTRIC CLOCKS: Electric clocks have a very high magnetic field, as much as 5 to 10 mg up to three feet away. If you are using a bedside clock, you are probably sleeping in and EMF equivalent to that of a powerline. Studies have linked high rates of brain tumors with chronic exposure to magnetic fields, so it is wise to place all clocks and other electrical devices (such as telephones and answering devices) at least 6 feet away from your bed.
FLUORESCENT LIGHTS: Fluorescent lights produce much more EMFs than incandescent bulbs. A typical fluorescent lamp of a office ceiling have readings of 160 to 200 mG @ 1 inch away.
MICROWAVE OVENS AND RADAR: Microwave ovens and radar from military installations and airports emit two types of radiation – microwave and ELF. Microwaves are measured in milliwatt per centimeter squared (mW/cm2) As of 1/1/93, the US safety limit for microwave exposure is 1mW/cm2, down from previous 10mW/cm2. The Russian safety limit is .01mW/cm2. All microwave ovens leak and exceed the Russian safety limit. In addition, recent Russian studies have shown that normal microwave cooking coverts food protein molecules into carcinogenic substances.
TELEPHONES AND ANSWERING MACHINES: Telephones can emit surprisingly strong EMFs, especially from the handset. This is a problem because we hold the telephone so close to our head. Place the Gauss meter right against the ear piece and the mouth pieced before buying phone.
Some brands emit no measurable fields and others emit strong fields that travel several inches --- right into your brain. Answering machines (mini-transformers), give off levels of EMFs.
ELECTRIC RAZORS & HAIR DRYERS: Electric razors and hair dryers emit EMFs as high as 200 to 400 mG. This seems alarming, but we don’t know if this is worse (or better) than a chronic exposure to a 2-3 mG field. Some EMF consultants recommend that hair dryers not be used on children as the high fields are held close to their rapidly developing brain and nervous system.
PRUDENT AVOIDANCE: Don’t sit too close to your TV set. Distance yourself at least 6 feet away. Use a Gauss meter to help you decide where it is safe to sit. Rearrange your office and home area so that you are not exposed to EMFs from sides/backs of electric appliances and computers. In the home, it is best that all major electrical appliances, such as computers, TVs, refrigerators, etc., be placed up against outside walls. That way you are not creating an EMF field in the adjoining room.
Don’t sit too close to your computer. Computer monitors vary greatly in the strength of their EMFs, so you should check yours with a meter. Don’t stand close to your microwave over. Move all electrical appliances at least 6 feet from your bed. Eliminate dimmers and 3-way switches.
ADDITIONAL RADIATION INFO: Eyeglass frames should ideally be made from plastic with no wires in them, otherwise they can serve as an antenna to focus the radio and cell phone waves directly into your brain.
WHAT EMF LEVEL IS SAFE: There’s a heated debate as to what electromagnetic field (EMF) level is considered safe. Since the experts have not come to a consensus, you’ll have to decide for yourself. Many government and utility documents report the usual ambient level of 60-Hz magnetic field to be 0.5 mG.
Thus, any reading higher than .05 mG is above the “usual” ambient exposure. Many experts and public officials as well as the few governments that have made an effort to offer public protection, have adopted the 3 mG cutoff point. The EPA has proposed a safety standard of 1 mG. Sweden has set a maximum safety limit of 1 mG.
It would now appear that we need to learn how to live with EMFs unless we go back to oil lamps and real horsepower, but that doesn’t answer why we in rural America need to accommodate this new renewable energy infrastructure.
I can easily see electric cars and light trucks, but I can’t see 400hp electric tractors for highway or field. Skipping forward a few generations, how are we going to have enough fertilizer derived from petroleum and fuel for large equipment to produce the needed food, and transportation for us and the world, unless we get serious about conservation now?
I write this because we on Kiowa County Planning and Zoning (October 2010) must approve any changes of use and must take a look at foreseen danger (be it right or wrong).