Nation & World

Senators push for more federal funding of wind turbines

Bipartisan effort comes day after Trump says they cause cancer

Turbines stand at the Colorado Highlands Wind Farm in Fleming, Colo., on May 5, 2016. CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Matthew Staver.
Turbines stand at the Colorado Highlands Wind Farm in Fleming, Colo., on May 5, 2016. CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Matthew Staver.

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.

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