ILLINOIS (WCIA) — In April, state lawmakers voted to strip the small town of Newman, Illinois, of its power to regulate and zone wind farms.
At the local level, opponents of the wind farm resisted the wind farm development at every turn, passing tougher zoning laws and battling international company EDP Renewables in court.
The vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan in both chambers, breezing through the Senate on a roll call of 43-7 and through the House 95-12. It granted Douglas County — and all counties across the state — the sole power to restrict or allow wind farm development.
The county board approved the new Harvest Ridge Wind Farm development on Wednesday, giving developers a green light to break ground and begin installing the units immediately.
On the same day Illinois moved to expedite development of wind farms, President Donald Trump mimicked the whirring sounds wind turbines can make, and claimed without evidence that “the noise causes cancer.”
Such an unfounded remark drew swift scorn from the President’s political opponents, and from members of his own party. It also has no basis in science or medicine.
Bernie Sanders, an Independent Senator from Vermont and Democratic presidential contestant, lampooned Mr. Trump’s comments the next day during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa.
“After a deep scientific study, [Trump] determined that wind turbines cause cancer,” Sanders said sarcastically. “He is the first person in the world to reach that conclusion.”
Senator Chuck Grassley, a senior Republican from Iowa who chairs the Judiciary Committee, scolded President Trump’s comment as an “idiotic statement.”
Senator Joni Ernst, another Iowa Republican, also derided the baseless comment as “ridiculous.”
Still, the President’s casual offhand remark that perhaps the noise from a wind turbine could cause cancer appeared to resonate in Newman Township, an old coal town where more than 90 percent of voters supported the Republican in 2016. A surprising number of local residents repeated the rumors that perhaps the arrival of new wind turbines could somehow lead to a spike in cancer.
Well respected medical experts who studied and searched for any possible link between the low-frequency whirring noise and cancer found no evidence at all to support that theory.
Five years ago, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine of scientific studies found the noise from wind turbines is quieter than a snowmobile, quieter than a vacuum cleaner, quieter than a car driving across the street at 30 miles per hour, and even quieter than your average conversation.
If you’re standing roughly one football field away from the wind turbine, the noise is equivalent to standing in a field with buzzing insects.
If you’re standing roughly five football field lengths away, the noise would be on par with what you might hear inside a library.
EDP Renewables, one of the largest wind energy developers in the world, has agreed to build their wind turbines at least 1,500 feet — or five football fields — away from any homes.
Medical experts who studied and researched the noises say people living nearby may be able to hear some noise, but they found no evidence to suggest that sound is any more dangerous than the sound of a fan.