Critique of the MA DEP “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study, Report of Independent Expert Panel,” January 2012
Dr. Raymond S. Hartman
Dr. Ray Hartman prepared this detailed critical review of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study, Report of Independent Expert Panel,” released January 2012. Dr. Hartman demonstrates the fallacy of using the findings of the DEP study to justify wind turbine siting. An excerpt of Dr. Hartman's report is provided below. The full critique can be found by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
The Health Impact Report fails to rise to the level of reliable scientific research. In matters of litigation, research or testimony that does not reflect, or indeed violates, standard scientific practices is excluded from the record as Junk Science. ...I have submitted many pieces of testimony over the last 35 years. My testimony has never been excluded as Junk Science. I find that the Health Impact Study is Junk Science. As Table 1 summarizes, there are major flaws with the Health Impact Study. I further discuss these below in this section and elaborate on the final flaw in Section III.
TABLE 1 - MAJOR FLAWS OF THE HEALTH IMPACT STUDY
The Panel who authored the Study was not independent.
The Panel who authored the Study is no more expert than the many scientists whose research the Panel peremptorily dismissed.
The research design of the Panel is fatally flawed.
The Panel failed to implement the appropriate statistical methods to test for the occurrence of IWT-induced adverse health effects.
The Panel failed to use readily available and most relevant data for experimental sites in New England.
The Panel cherry picked 5 research studies and ignored countless others.
The Panel failed to fully report the findings of the limited number of articles upon which it did rely. A more complete reading of these articles reveals scientific findings of adverse health effects.
The Health Impact Study would be excluded for the following reasons.
a) The "Independent Expert Panel" was not independent.
While the group of academics empaneled to conduct the research was designated as "Independent," they were not. In complex litigation, courts at times appoint an "Independent Expert" to the Court, to assist the Judge and/or jury to understand the complex technical issues involved. Such Independent Experts are scrupulously vetted, so that they are acceptable to both parties of the dispute - the Defendants and the Plaintiffs (and the attorneys). The Independent Expert must not "have a dog in the fight;" he/she must not have prior preferences for the positions or arguments of one side. If the Independent Expert has any financial or ideological preference for the arguments of one group of adverse litigations, that Expert will simply not be Independent, either consciously or sub-consciously. If an Independent Expert is found to have such prejudices, he or she will be impeached - excluded from serving as a consulting expert.
Several "experts" on the Expert Panel have pro-wind-industry connections. For one important example, I understand that Dr. James Manwell's Wind Energy Center is heavily involved with the industry and is heavily funded by the Commonwealth. I believe that it is therefore impossible for him to offer a neutral opinion on the health effects of industrial wind turbine installations. Likewise, the Panel was appointed by representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which has an obvious infatuation with wind energy. Such a panel cannot be relied upon for impartial scientific judgment. It would certainly be challenged in a legal setting.
I find that many of the Panel members are advocates of Wind Energy. As a result, I find that their report is an exercise in advocacy. It is not science.
b) The "Independent Expert Panel" is no more expert than the many scientists whose research the Panel peremptorily dismisses.
The Health Impact Report cites, but improperly dismisses or marginalizes, research that contradicts the Report's findings. This research has been conducted by qualified scientists no less expert than members of the Panel. This dismissal or
marginalization violates standard scientific practices. It is unacceptable. For one example, the Health Impact Report dismisses the research and work conducted by Dr. Nina Pierpont, a physician and PhD biologist, whose credentials are as good or better than those of almost all the members of the "Independent Expert Panel.
Indeed, the design of the research experiment conducted by Dr. Pierpont is exactly the design blessed, but not implemented, by the Independent Expert Panel - a "Before-and-After" study.
c) The research design of the Independent Expert Panel is fatally flawed.
The research design of the Independent Expert Panel was to conduct no primary research of its own. Instead, it reviewed a variety of research efforts; incorrectly dismissed most of that research, particularly research that found adverse health effects; and cherry-picked five peer-reviewed articles out of hundreds, which could have been given equal weight. The Panel bases its conclusions importantly upon these 5 articles, even though these studies were conducted in Europe and New Zealand, where the geographical characteristics, the size of the IWTs and wind assets are distinctly different than those found for proposed IWTs in New England.
d) The Panel recognized the appropriate statistical methods to test for the occurrence of IWT-induced adverse health effects but failed to implement them for the readily-available and the most-relevant experimental sites.
The Panel explicitly recognizes the need for the best statistical method3 - pooling time series and cross-sectional data. Since the Panel should be most interested in the possible impacts of IWTs upon neighboring residents in Massachusetts and similar New England states, it could have implemented such research where it mattered and where data was readily available - at the many IWT sites in Massachusetts, New York and New England generally.4 Inexplicably, the Panel did not conduct such research. Indeed, it ignored the considerable problems arising at such sites. As a matter of public-policy research design and implementation, this is unacceptable.
e) After conducting no research of its own; and after cherry-picking 5 articles to support its "research;" the Panel further fails to fully report the findings of the articles upon which it relies. A more complete reading of these articles reveals scientific findings of adverse health effects. This mischaracterization of the research upon which it relies is dishonest and renders the conclusions of the Health Impact Study completely without merit.