CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – Citizens of Canadian and Kingfisher counties in Oklahoma have filed a new legal motion to advance a trial for a permanent injunction against Apex Clean Energy to establish reasonable setbacks of wind turbines from homes.
Saying they had exhausted all attempts to work with Apex, members of the lawsuit are, in the owrds of a press relase, “seeking protection from adverse health effects, and loss of use and value of their property, by requiring wind turbines be placed two miles from their properties.”
“We’re simply asking the court to hear the case soon before we lose the opportunity to protect our properties and families from being damaged by turbines that are planned too close to our homes,” said Terra Walker, a plaintiff and property owner in Okarche. “ Rural Oklahomans are fighting a corporate giant, Apex, at our own expense. We’re seeking injunctive relief for violation of our rights, not monetary damages. It’s a David and Goliath-type battle but one that must be fought and won to protect our families and future generations.”
The Kingfisher Wind Project began construction on May 18. Opponents say construction began “despite repeated unanswered requests from non-participating landowners to reconsider placement.” Foes of the project say it impacts at least 128 Oklahoma Wind Action Association (OWAA) property owners in addition to hundreds more residents.
“This project has already torn apart our community by dividing neighbors and families against each other. It has turned friends into rivals,” said Brent Robinson, OWAA president. “Establishing a two-mile setback of turbines from properties is a reasonable and sensible request of Apex to minimize the impact to our homes and lives. It also serves the greater public interest as recently affirmed by the Oklahoma legislature. We’re requesting a similar setback distance as Senate Bill 808 requires.”
Senate Bill 808, signed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on April 17, establishes a setback distance of one and a half (1.5) nautical miles (roughly 1.73 miles) between proposed industrial wind turbines and public and private-use airports, public schools, and hospitals.
The debate over S.B. 808 and its implementation can be viewed as a sidebar to the broader debate over business subsidies to a wide range of industries.
According to a summary of the new lawsuit, provided to news organizations by OWAA, “The motion refers to the irreparable harm caused by nuisance and unavoidable negative health impacts caused to people by the noise generated by turbines. Turbines produce audible sound and infra-sound, as well as shadow flicker emitted from rotating blades.
“Nationwide health studies (which will be addressed at trial) show these can cause loss of concentration, sleep disruption, cardiovascular disease, chronic depression, increased headaches, tinnitus, dizziness, difficulties with balance, ear aches, nausea, headaches, difficulty concentrating, memory recall, hypertension, palpitations, enlarged heart, mood disorder (depression and anxiety), frustration, feelings of distress, anger, difficulty regulating diabetes, thyroid disorders, and fatigue.
Additionally, industrial wind turbines cause the potential for flying debris (due to ice throw, mechanical failure, or impact with birds).”
Buffer zones of a minimum of two miles from a non-participating landowner’s property will serve, OWAA activists say, “to shield neighboring landowners from the potential harmful impacts of industrial wind facilities.”
Walker commented, “Research shows a negative impact to health for people within close proximity of a turbine. We hope the Court will serve its purpose in protecting citizens against these huge, wealthy powers.”
OWAA joined with Oklahoma Property Rights Association and Wind Waste “to advocate for sensible laws to protect people and oversee future development in Oklahoma. The non-profit associations are concerned about the long-term impact this unregulated industry will have on property owners, and are fighting for oversight to ensure turbines are appropriately placed, operated safely, well-maintained and there is adequate funding to remove abandoned wind farms.”
OWAA and alllied individuals and groups have pressed their case both at the Legislature and in previous legal actions.
Editor's Note: The Oklahoma Wind Action Association (OWAA) “was founded in February 2014 to protect its members from negative affects of industrial wind turbines. The organization serves more than 380 citizens in Canadian and Kingfisher counties.”