The Leaflet: Are Wind Turbines Hazardous to Human Health?

Published October 30, 2014

 Are Wind Turbines Hazardous to Human Health?

 Earlier this month, Brown County Health Board in Wisconsin was the first government agency in the U.S. to announce that wind turbines are a “human health hazard.” According to Environment & Climate News, “The Board’s Oct. 13 decision was based on a year-long study documenting infrasound in homes within a six mile radius of the Shirley Wind turbines. The Board’s decision is the first of its kind in the nation and puts Duke Energy on the defensive, as it will be asked to convince the Board Shirley Wind is not causing health problems. If Duke fails, it may face a shutdown order.”

After many years of increased subsidies, wind power has become one of the most favored industries in the energy sector, despite only producing 2.9 percent of the United States’ total energy. Wind farms and related industries continue to collect subsidies like production tax credits and renewable power mandates.

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, electricity prices are rising in states generating the most wind power. From 2008–2013, electricity prices rose an average of 20.7 percent in the top 10 wind power states, which is seven-fold higher than the national electricity price increase of 2.8 percent.

H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News, wrote in response to the news that, “If in fact, industrial wind turbines do cause human health problems, it could result in significant restrictions on their placement and operations – making them even less popular and unprofitable (absent large subsidies) than they already are.”

While the “human health risks” of wind turbines continue to be investigated, higher electricity prices in states that use the most wind power are having negative consequences on rate payers and state economies. State lawmakers should reconsider their renewable power mandates and taxpayer subsidies that perpetuate high electricity costs.

Research & Commentary: Georgia Common Core
Recently, a House study committee in Georgia held a hearing on the role of the federal government in education, especially in regards to Common Core State Standards. By signing on to Common Core, Heartland Research Fellow Joy Pullmann, who testified at the hearing, says Georgia effectively “traded 5 percent of one year’s K–12 budget for tying itself more closely to Obama administration education policies and even more direct federal oversight.” Read more

Energy & Environment
Reducing Ohio’s Renewable-Power Mandate is Progress, Not Regression
In an op-ed for the Toledo Blade, Policy Analyst Taylor Smith responds to renewable energy activists’ claims that passing a law that reduced the state’s renewable energy mandate was a “step backwards.” Smith says wind and solar are not the new, emerging technologies they need to be in order to justify a law forcing people to buy them. Rather, wind and solar have each existed since the 19th century and are still negligible factors in the state’s electricity portfolio. By contrast, natural gas extraction technology has recently made revolutionary advancements, thereby creating jobs, lowering energy prices, and even reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Read more

Health Care
Research & Commentary: Tennessee Medicaid Expansion
Recent moves by Pennsylvania and Indiana to expand their Medicaid programs under the false mantle of being a “free-market alternative” to Obamacare have emboldened some Republican governors to reconsider their opposition to Medicaid expansion. According to The Tennessean, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is considering submitting a Medicaid expansion proposal in the fall. Given Haslam’s previous statements on Medicaid, it is very likely the new proposal will emulate similar plans enacted in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, where federal dollars are used to help the poor buy private health insurance.  In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines the likely proposals and argues that the models used by Arkansas and Pennsylvania have several shortcomings. Glans says that despite the private-market appearance of the programs, they still represent an expansion of a failed Medicaid system, where multiple aspects of the insurance plan are dictated by the federal government and the beneficial elements of real market competition are lost. Read more 

Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Tax Reform in Wisconsin Is Not Yet Complete
Since 2011, Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the Wisconsin General Assembly have cut taxes by nearly $2 billion. Prior to Wisconsin’s tax reforms, the state had five income tax brackets, with rates ranging from 4.6 percent to 7.75 percent. The reforms simplified the tax code by eliminating 17 special-interest tax credits, and it also lowered rates, which now range from 4 percent to a top rate of 7.65 percent. In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans discusses Wisconsin’s recent tax reform and argues that while Wisconsin has made several steps in the right direction, more work is needed. “The progressivity of the state’s income tax system must be reduced. Eliminating the income tax altogether would help taxpayers and the economy the most, but at the very least, the state should implement a lower, flat tax. That would help stem the out-migration of Wisconsin residents.” Read more

Will the FCC Break the Internet?
The United States stands at a potential crossroads with how it chooses to regulate the Internet, and the world is watching. Scott Cleland writes in this Heartlander article about how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering reversing the legal status of American Internet services from lightly-regulated information services to utility-regulated “telecommunications” services in response to a 2014 appellate court decision that limited a portion of the FCC’s net neutrality regulatory authority. “The big point here is if the FCC unilaterally changes the legal status of American Internet service to utility-regulated ‘telecommunications,’ it could lead to big negative global repercussions that could seriously undermine U.S. trade and foreign policy interests going forward.” Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
2015 State Business Tax Climate Index
On October 28, 2014, the Tax Foundation released its “State Business Tax Climate Index.” The goal of this report is to enable business leaders, government policymakers, and taxpayers to gauge how their states’ tax systems compare. The index simplifies 50 complicated state business tax systems into one easy-to-use ranking. The Tax Foundation found the five states with the friendliest business tax climates are Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, and Florida. Read more




The October issue of School Reform News reports the North Carolina legislature approved a budget allocating more money for a new school voucher program and allowed more students to transfer to private schools on scholarships. “I prayed that the other parents that didn’t get picked, that extra money would be available for them to get picked, because as passionate as I am, they are too,” said one parent.

Budget & Tax News



Environment & Climate News