WASHINGTON — The morning after President Donald Trump claimed that noise from wind turbines can cause cancer, a bipartisan group of 19 senators announced a push for “robust” funding of federal programs to support the industry, dubbing it an “American success story.”
A letter, spearheaded by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to an appropriations panel noted that the wind industry employs more than 100,000 U.S. citizens and said funding was needed “to ensure America remains a leader in wind energy technology.”
Those who signed the letter, including five announced Democratic presidential candidates, did not mention Trump’s comments at a fundraising dinner Tuesday.
“Hillary wanted to put up wind. Wind!” Trump said, referring to the energy policies of his 2016 Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton. “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, OK?”
A 2014 study found there are some risks to sustained exposure to noise from wind turbines, including sleep disturbance. But the peer-reviewed research published by PLOS ONE dismissed possible links to several other conditions, including headaches and vertigo, and did not mention cancer.
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request Wednesday for evidence to back up the president’s claim.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds sidestepped reporters’ questions Wednesday about Trump’s comments.
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Reynolds touted wind energy as a key component of Iowa’s green energy portfolio that continues to attract advanced manufacturing and companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft with low-cost energy.
“I’m focused on the benefits that it brings. We’re proud of it,” the Iowa governor said.
Asked by a reporter whether the president is wrong on his cancer contention, Reynolds said weighing in on the issue “is not my place.”
“You know how those things change — one year coffee is good for you, the next year coffee causes cancer. I mean that’s just what happens,” she added.
Wind energy has become a major industry in Iowa, the nation’s first presidential nominating state, which perhaps explains why so many presidential hopefuls signed the senators’ letter. Those included Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
The Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.