Rutland Herald Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2003

Electrical fields and cancer

As legal process gets under way and gains momentum, various interpretations begin to appear regarding the position of the Vermont Citizens for Safe Energy (VCSE) in the matter of the proposed VELCO power lines. It has been, and is, the stated objective of VCSE to coerce VELCO into a more complete study and full disclosure to Vermont citizens about the possible harmful effects of electromagnetic fields and the real possibility that the electromagnetic fields coming from the high tension power lines, as such, may be carcinogenic.

At the first status conference held by the Public Service Board following the filing of the VELCO proposal, it became immediately apparent that VELCO did not want a fuller and more complete airing of this issue and, further, much to my dislike, did not wish to give due and timely notice to landowners over whose property the upgraded lines were to pass. Relying on a Vermont court decision, basically that the public good outweighs private good, VELCO’s lawyers attempted to evade a responsibility I believe is incumbent upon them: full disclosure to the people.

When that decision was rendered 30 or more years ago, the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields upon public health was not understood and not an issue. In the intervening years, much has been discovered about these, both in the United States and abroad. Today it is an issue. Furthermore, the decision devolving to the public good takes on a new meaning in that the public good is now the health and safety of Vermont citizens. Amazingly, in a meeting before the utilities committee of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission, VELCO admitted that it had no one on its staff qualified to address the issue from an engineering point of view.

Both scientific and circumstantial evidence is mounting that there is a connection between electromagnetic fields and cancer. A study commissioned by the U.S. government ranked it in category 2B, the same category that included DDT, chloroform, gasoline exhaust fumes and welding fumes, all possible cancer-causing agents.

VCSE is not opposed to VELCO, as has been publicly intimated. VELCO is not going to go away. Vermont needs electric power. A reliable source of electricity is paramount to our life here. VCSE wishes vehemently that VELCO undertake the necessary studies and discussions to permit all the citizens to understand exactly what it is we are buying into. A reliable source of energy includes a reliability that it is relatively safe.