California Governor Brown VETOES SB649

On October 15th, 2017 Governor Brown VETOED SB649, a bill that would have allowed the telecom industry to bypass traditional planning channels at the local government level, and install new cell towers on every power pole in the state with virtually no oversight.

While the telecom industry is licking its wounds now, they will likely be back soon with further attempts to erase local governments’ planning role. We must keep the pressure on.

Enjoy this poster above by Shelley Masters depicting life and the real threat that wireless communications poses to us all. Feel free to share and pass on (with credit to Ms. Masters please).

Thank you to the thousands of you who traveled to Sacramento, called, faxed, and wrote the governor from all corners of the state, making this veto possible.

This is YOUR victory. 

Also- a special shout out to the folks behind Scientists for Wired Technology who dropped everything and tirelessly worked to defeat this bill at the Capitol these last six months. Thank you!  -SSM!

Posted in California, Democracy, neighborhood organizing, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Plumas County’s Telecommunications Ordinance Process: Opportunities and Threats

Beckwourth Peak in Plumas County, CA. The city of Portola nearby is home to Stop Smart Meters!

This opinion piece appeared today in Plumas County Newspapers:

We probably all agree we want quality internet and phone connections that are fast, secure, affordable, safe and reliable. The Planning Commission is currently drafting a new telecommunications ordinance for Plumas County—an opportunity to achieve these goals. Unfortunately, the process—so far—is leading in the opposite direction.

If the county adopted a tobacco ordinance, I would hope they would not solicit advice solely from the cigarette industry, ignoring testimony of public health professionals. Yet that is exactly what is happening with the telecom ordinance process. Cigarettes and mobile devices are both highly addictive and can cause terminal cancer, according to the best and most recent science. We must protect our families and communities.

Adopting an industry-friendly ordinance means increased fire risk in vulnerable communities, impacts of industrial equipment on what many consider sacred, remote peaks and mountaintops, unnecessary RF exposure, higher user costs and noise pollution from generators.

The telecom industry does not share the goals of the public. They are instead working to eliminate any authority local governments have over their operations. After thousands in “contributions” and heavy lobbying, the industry succeeded in passing SB 649 through the California legislature this month. SB 649 would unconstitutionally ban local governments from regulating “small cells,” allowing millions of new “5G” antennas to be installed on every power pole in California. Forty-seven out of 58 counties oppose this bill. Call Governor Brown today at (916) 445-2841, and tell him to veto SB649.

Doctors are speaking out about wireless development, and SB649. Beatrice Golomb, MD,

Dr. Beatrice Golomb runs the Golomb Research Group at UC San Diego

PhD, Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego’s medical school says: “If this bill passes, many people will suffer greatly and needlessly as a direct result. This sounds like hyperbole. It is not.”  

A $20 million National Toxicology Program study concluded: “exposure to radio frequency radiation has the potential to induce measurable DNA damage under certain exposure conditions.”  DNA breaks can lead to cancer and long term damage to our genetic heritage. 

In 2011 the World Health Organization designated wireless microwave radiation (used by cell phones, towers, cordless phones, wi-fi, etc.) as a Class 2B possible human carcinogen

Dr. Cindy Russell, Vice President Community Health at the Santa Clara County Medical Association, says: “Important questions [about wireless safety] have not been addressed while industry and government policy move forward.” 

What is the solution? Readily available communications technologies that do not rely on carcinogenic RF radiation- like landline telephones and fiber—should be standard. Wired fiber to the home, already available to the “lucky few,” should be available to everyone at an affordable price. We hear the refrain from industry: “it’s too expensive to put in the last mile to each home.” But this attitude betrays a lack of vision, and proper accounting.

One hundred and ten years ago, AT&T promoted universal service,” meaning everyone would have access to telephone service—even if they could not afford it. We need a similar concept today for fast internet which has become essential. Fiber to every home costs money, but we ran telephone wire to every home last century- we can do it again. 

The more costly, hazardous, unreliable, expensive and energy-intensive wireless systems are no substitute for quality fiber connections. We need leadership from the county to coordinate a “big dig” to put all the lines in at once to make this more affordable. If you consider the economic benefits of universal fast, secure internet and reduced risk of expensive (and heartbreaking) diseases like brain tumors, fiber starts looking like a bargain.

According to telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick, AT&T and other corporations have redirected public funds for fiber to hazardous (but profitable) wireless projects. According to Kushnick,“AT&T’s plan is to force-march customers onto wireless service for the home instead of maintaining and upgrading the networks to fiber for residential and business customers—because it makes them more money.” 

In our county, money that should be going to expand the fiber network is being misdirected to new cell towers being planned for our county.

Existing telecommunications equipment on Beckwourth Peak above Portola, CA- Verizon/ AT&T/ T-Mobile would like to build an even bigger and more hazardous complex at the site

Com Sites West, the wireless company who owns these sites, and who represents T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon, plans to build a 140 ft. tower this spring to replace the existing 110 ft. tower on Beckwourth Peak above Portola, and another on Radio Hill in Quincy. This would increase RF exposure to already impacted populations, introduce larger and uglier industrial equipment to our mountaintops, and increase fire risk. 

 According to Com Sites West, the project won’t even increase coverage, nor access to emergency services. They admit that the purpose of these projects is to increase capacity for heavy use of video by mobile phones- a demand that should be met with fiber, not more powerful wireless. Keep in mind estimates say 35% of internet traffic is for pornography. These projects should not be permitted by the county.

Unlike fiber, cell towers are known to fall and catch fire. In 2007, a utility pole overloaded with wireless equipment in Malibu, CA collapsed during high winds, igniting a blaze that burned nearly 4000 acres and caused over $14,000,000 in damage. If the County allowed a 140 ft. tower on Beckwourth Peak, it could collapse well within the area of dry brush, grass, and trees, putting the safety of the Portola area at risk. The risks do not justify the benefits. Eugene, Oregon and many other local governments in the western US limit cell tower height to 100 ft. partly for this reason.

I attended two workshops at the planning commission in Quincy, and both times I was the only member of the public present. Outnumbered by industry representatives, when I spoke briefly about important safety issues, the District 1 Supervisor attempted to limit me to three minutes, even though workshops are intended to facilitate open discussion, and gather valuable input from the public, who bring different perspectives and information to the table.

To increase public involvement in this process, and ensure the ordinance is written so it protects the people and environment of Plumas County—not just the wireless industry—the County should hold a series of public hearings on the telecommunications ordinance this fall, at times and locations people from around the county can easily attend. Just as is being done for the cannabis ordinance, the bike/ped plan, and other public processes, residents of Plumas County have a right to understand and help shape the new law.

What we would like to see included in this ordinance:

1)  Prioritization of wireline over wireless facilities

2) Require wireless companies document a gap in coverage when proposing new wireless facilities

3) Require all new facilities be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission

4)  110 ft. height limit on all cell towers in the county

5)  No wireless facilities in residential areas

6)  No multi-decade contracts that the county cannot modify or cancel, even in emergency circumstances

7)  Required setbacks of at least 1000 feet for wireless facilities near hospitals/child care/senior centers—no exceptions

8)  Requirements to keep noise to a minimum 

9) Cell towers should not be camoflaged- they should be painted fluorescent yellow—a warning

Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, local governments have authority to regulate where cell towers are and are not permitted, as long as such decisions do not interfere with wireless coverage. This leaves a lot of flexibility and control to local governments.

We can be a model rural county, providing safe fast and secure wired internet to residents

The Planning Commission considers the new Telecommunications Ordinance, led by industry (at left)

while minimizing the negative side effects which are only set to grow worse. Or we can turn a blind eye to the doctors and scientists trying their best to warn us of this growing threat to our heath and safety. Let’s not waste this opportunity.

 If you would like to send comments to the Planning Commission about these issues, they are holding a workshop on the telecommunications ordinance on Oct. 5th at 10am at 555 Main St. in Quincy.  You can send comments to the planning commission care of Becky Herrin at BeckyHerrin@countyofplumas.com or 555 Main St. Quincy CA 95971 

Josh Hart is Director of Portola-based Stop Smart Meters! and has been a grassroots activist in the fields of safe telecommunications and transportation since 1999. You can find references for the article above and more at StopSmartMeters.org

Posted in California, Cancer, Cell phones, Democracy, health effects, landlines, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, Physicians, Plumas County, radio-frequency radiation, Safety, World Health Organization | 1 Comment

The Invisible Rainbow- Arthur Firstenberg

Released on Earth Day this year, The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life is the culmination of EMF activist Arthur Firstenberg’s long career fighting wireless infrastructure. The Invisible Rainbow is “easy to read, hard to put down, sublimely poetic, and scientifically rigorous,” says architect Jennifer Wood. “A mind-blower,” writes psychologist and author Chellis Glendinning.

If you have not yet read it, this book is different. It will alter the landscape surrounding our issue and make it possible for legislators and judges to change course.

One of the things that has perplexed us working against smart meters these past 7 years has been the massive psychological denial and blind spot that most people continue to have around the wireless health issue, despite the strong evidence that harm is occurring. This excellent, well researched and gripping book goes a long way toward explaining how we got where we are.  The Invisible Rainbow is highly recommended for anyone who wants to go deeper into the “shocking” history of the relationship between life and electricity. Best of all, this hardcover book is now available in the Stop Smart Meters! online store and benefits our ongoing efforts to organize against smart meters.

Pick up your copy today and consider getting one for your local library!

Posted in Cell phones, Citizen rebellion, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, health effects, radio-frequency radiation, Wi-Fi, World Health Organization | Comments Off on The Invisible Rainbow- Arthur Firstenberg

CA Legislature Approves SB649 By Narrow Margin– CALL GOVERNOR NOW TO VETO

California residents are strongly advised to speak out against SB649 which was (shamefully and barely) approved by the legislature on Sept. 13th/ 14th.  This terrible bill now heads to the governor’s desk.  Make a quick call to Gov. Brown now at (916) 445-2841 and tell him to veto this bill that will harm California. Leave a message if you call over the weekend. Do it now. Read more about SB649 here. See also this fact sheet published by the CA Alliance for Safer Technology.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Community Gathers to Defend One of Their Own in Ann Arbor

Residents gather to defend their neighbor from a power shut-off threatened by DTE for refusing a “smart” meter. Photo courtesy MLive.

On Monday, August 14, 2017, people from across Michigan participated in a community defense mass action to stop unauthorized “smart” meter installation and to show the utility company that they will not submit to the utility’s coercive tactics. Since then, Michigan residents have continued to stand up to DTE Energy’s bullying tactics and have refused to cave in to shut-off threats. These folks are taking action and putting their money where their mouth is, in the truest form of activism!

In early August, at least eleven Ann Arbor residents received shut-off notices from DTE, their electricity provider, stating that if they did not call DTE to accept a smart meter on their home, the electric service to their home would be shut off.

Linda Kurtz, 55, Director of Michigan’s Smart Meter Education Network, who received one of the shut-off notices, organized a protest at her home to demonstrate public outrage over these illegal tactics. Kurtz cannot have any type of smart or digital meter on her home because she is severely affected by both wireless radiation and the “dirty electricity” that digital meters generate. Her symptoms, when exposed for more than 20 minutes at a time, include unremitting insomnia, heart palpitations, tinnitus, and extreme fatigue. She has what is known as “electrosensitivity.”

Kurtz was not the only one whose life and health was threatened by her electricity provider. Eleven others in the community also received notices that they would have their power shut off that day as well. Of the eight who resisted DTE’s extortion tactics, six had their power shut off, including women and men in their 80s and 90s. As Kurtz and others said, “DTE may cut off their electric service to my home, but they cannot shut off my power!”

Kurtz did not have her power shut off on the 14th. That may be due to the fact that DTE was afraid to disconnect her when dozens of people were standing witness, in solidarity and protesting DTE’s tactics at her house. Kurtz still has her power (and her electricity) and has a generator as a backup if it is cut off at a later date.

DTE is adamant that “smart” meters are completely safe, even though there are thousands of people who have contacted the Smart Meter Education Network, Stop Smart Meters! and similar groups to report that their health has been affected since smart meter installation. Literally thousands of peer-reviewed studies document harm from smart meters and other wireless devices. Like public policy in the United States and other “developed” countries, DTE is behind the times when it comes to the health and well-being of their customers. The company apparently does not think twice about coercively disconnecting power to the elderly- including those who have been paying their bills faithfully and on time for decades.

Community direct actions such as this are what *really* work to stop smart meters- not online petitions, fake EMF charms or “orgonite.”  This is in fact what the utility companies are most afraid of- the spectacle of community solidarity and the resulting media coverage. Don’t stand for your neighbors being abused, and they won’t stand it when you are abused- it’s quite simple.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Local news stations showed up to cover the event. Several videos and articles about the protests can be found below:

MLive   WXYZ   Metro Times

Michigan activists hope to bring attention to the brutality of DTE’s actions and also gain support for House Bill 4220, currently in limbo, which would allow any resident in the State of Michigan to opt for an analog meter without paying an extortionate “opt-out” fee or being threatened with power disconnection, a state of affairs that prompted the events of the 14th.

As utilities like DTE continue to threaten the health and safety of customers everywhere, this will definitely not be the last smart meter protest to make headlines. Unless utilities change their policies to get with the times – both in terms of health and what their customers want – they will face a massive loss in revenue from customers who move off-grid as well as people organizing and protecting their communities against utility injustice.

Join the effort today by volunteering and donating to Smart Meter Education Network, Stop Smart Meters! and other local groups actively organizingWalk door to door in your neighborhood to raise awareness with brochures, public health warning cards, and EMF Meters — all available in our online store.

Posted in Changing a Meter, Citizen rebellion, Democracy, Dirty Electricity, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, health effects, legal issues, Michigan, neighborhood organizing, radio-frequency radiation, Safety, Smart Grid, Wi-Fi | 1 Comment