Maine physician: distortion in anti-wind energy health claims

Yesterday’s issue of the Kennebec Journal carried this opinion article by a physician, Dr. Richard K. Jennings, M.D., of Fayette, Me., who said he is disturbed by the way anti-wind farm groups are publicizing wind turbines health concerns.

It’s a thoughtful article that deserves to be read in its entirety. However, the following quotation appears for future reference in case the article is removed from the Web:

“In Maine, although we are fortunate in our resources for wind, a small but vocal group opposes development of wind power, because of concerns about quality of place, of noise and of possible harm to health. Claims regarding possible harm to health are not supported by medical evidence nor medical literature.

“Nina Pierpont, M.D., cited as an authority of ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ (the title of her self-published book), has no medical publications. Contrary to her claim, her book was not ‘peer reviewed,’ but rather received approving comments from friends and associates. A so-called ‘study,’ involving some residents at Mars Hill and claiming negative health effects, by Dr. Michael Nissenbaum in Fort Kent, is in the same category of anecdotal reports. He simply reported what was said, with no objective confirmation.

“The sound from wind turbines does create some troublesome problems to a few people in Mars Hill, Vinalhaven and elsewhere. These problems are being addressed, and potentially corrected, with technological advances.

“Additionally, Drs. Monique and Albert Aniel have consistently opposed wind farm development on the same false grounds of harmful effects on health. Dr. Albert Aniel, after the Maine Medical Association’s Public Health Committee rejected his initial resolution by a vote of 8-1 a year ago, submitted a different resolution at the association’s general meeting. Although a comprehensive resolution about climate change already was approved, Aniel’s resolution encouraged further studies and dissemination of information about wind power, and it passed.

“Passage, however, in no way suggested, or reflected, any concern by the Maine Medical Association regarding negative health consequences. Now, however, the resolution is being used as a platform from which to present a distorted position of the Maine Medical Association, falsely portraying it as having legitimate and serious concerns about wind and health problems. These allegations have been widely promoted and quoted, thereby creating fear and apprehension, leading in turn to the many delays and excessive restrictions set upon development of wind as an alternative form of energy, such as we have seen in recent months.”

Dr. Jennings is a member of the Maine Medical Association and its Public Health Committee.

By Tom Gray,