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Does Windmill Noise Cause Cancer? Donald Trump Renews Campaign Against Wind Power With New, Baseless Claim

Newsweek logo Newsweek 4/3/2019 David Brennan

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President Donald Trump renewed his campaign against wind power during a rambling speech at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner on Tuesday, suggesting wind turbines undermine property values, kill birds and even cause cancer.

The president is a climate change denier and staunch opponent of wind-generated power. He often makes outlandish criticisms of the renewable technology and instead lauds traditional fuels such as coal. Trump's opposition to renewable energy has been described by scientists as “malicious ignorance.”

Trump’s most common line of attacks on wind power are that the turbines kill birds — they do, but at a far lower rate than other energy sources — and that reliance on turbines would mean there is no electricity when there is no wind — an argument nullified by the existence of battery storage.

On Tuesday, he was mocking wind power as part of an attack on former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who proposed greater investment in wind turbines to reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuels and bring down carbon emissions.

“Hillary wanted to put up wind. Wind,” he told the crowd. “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value.” He then introduced his newest argument, telling the audience, “And they say the noise causes cancer,” before mimicking the sound of a turbine as the crowd laughed and applauded.

There is no evidence that the noise of a wind turbine causes cancer. Anti-wind power groups have incorrectly claimed that the low-frequency noise — known as infrasound — given off by turbines can cause health problems including nausea, sleep loss and anxiety, among many other symptoms, The Atlantic explained.

No research has ever shown harm from such low frequencies, and no cancer of any kind has a proven link to high levels of noise. Chemicals and particulates released in the extraction, storage, transportation and burning of coal and other fossil fuels, in comparison, have been proven to cause higher rates of cancer.

The president continued by lamenting the number of birds killed by the turbines. “And of course it’s like a graveyard for birds. If you love birds, you’d never want to walk under a windmill, because it’s a very sad, sad sight. It’s like a cemetery. We put a little statue for the poor birds.”

At a campaign rally in Michigan last month, Trump again attacked Clinton’s plans to expand America’s wind power infrastructure. “You know, Hillary wanted to put windmills all over the place. Let's put up some windmills. When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television darling, please. There's no wind, please turn off the television quickly,” the president said. “I know a lot about wind,” he added.

And at the CPAC event last month, Trump dismissed the effectiveness of wind energy as part of his attack on the Green New Deal. “When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric,” he incorrectly claimed.

Despite Trump’s continued opposition, the U.S. wind energy industry is growing. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry supported more than 100,000 jobs in 2017 and provided 6.3 percent of the nation’s energy. The Energy Information Association says wind power is on track to surpass hydropower as the country’s largest source of renewable energy by 2019.


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