How would you feel if you or your kids started feeling sick? What if you or your kids suddenly started having headaches, ear aches, nausea, dizziness or couldn't sleep well anymore in your own home and you knew it wouldn't ever go away?
This is happening right now in Wisconsin. Families who had happy, healthy lives found themselves suffering illnesses that started after wind turbines were built near their homes. Scientific evidence indicates that there are health impacts that are associated with large wind turbines, many as tall as 500 feet. A bill that I introduced requires new safety setback rules based on health studies.
We aren't sure why wind turbines seem to cause illnesses. Is it electrical pollution, radio waves, sound waves that are too low to hear, vibrations, shadow-flicker or noise?
We know some adults and children who live near turbines feel nausea, headaches, dizziness, insomnia, ear aches, agitation, and other symptoms - and their illnesses clear up when they are away from home.
Two families whom I represent have moved out of their homes because of illnesses they felt after eight wind turbines were built nearby; others want to move but can't afford to. A Fond du Lac family abandoned their $300,000 remodeled farm house because their 16-year-old daughter developed intestinal lesions and was hospitalized for them. After they moved away, she recovered. Others have said that deer and birds they feed in their backyards disappear when the turbines turn, and they return when the turbines stop.
This problem isn't confined to Wisconsin. There are studies coming from other countries and states that report health issues for those who are too near large wind turbines. These new wind turbines are nearly 500 feet tall, taller than 40-story buildings, and nearly twice as tall as the state Capitol.
To be fair to people who live in rural areas where turbines are being built, we need to find out what is "too close" and what distance is acceptable for the health of adults, children and animals. Right now, we don't know. Right now, it depends on whether you are pushing for or against wind turbines or have to live near them.
The purpose of my bill is to get the facts before others are harmed. It requires that a "peer reviewed" health study address these health effects and be used by the state Public Service Commission to establish a safe distance for wind turbine setback rules.
People should be secure in their homes; they shouldn't be forced to move because they are being made ill by something built near them. In Wisconsin, we owe our citizens more than someone's opinion on whether their home is safe -whether their children are safe.
Wind turbines are causing real hardship for real people. Some can't afford to move to preserve their or their kids' health. Could you? Our government has a duty to know the facts and protect our citizens regardless of whether we are "for" wind energy or "against" wind energy.
State Sen. Frank Lasee, of De Pere, represents Wisconsin's 1st Senate District.