Fact and Fiction in the Press: Green Party Responds to Press Static on Smart Meter Opposition

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Fact and Fiction in the Press: Green Party Responds to Press Static on Smart Meter Opposition
by C. L. Cook
Last week, in an article titled, 'Green Party Gets Lost in the Static,' Black Press editorial writer, Tom Fletcher attacked both the federal and B.C. provincial Greens for their joint statement opposing B.C. Hydro's so-named "smart meter" program.
B.C. Green Party leader, Jane Sterk
While there are myriad reasons to question the wisdom of this largely unexamined project: single-sourced contracts worth nearly a billion precious public dollars; total lack of oversight by the B.C. Utilities Commission; the questionable quality of the meters themselves; and, antiquated technology, the Greens focused on the health risks and public concerns about the wireless system the meters deploy.
On this point, Fletcher was quick to pounce, likening the Greens to "tin-foil hat" wearing conspiracy theorists. Trotting out Hydro PR releases as research, Fletcher ignored the facts and dismissed scientific studies done by the World Health Organization (WHO) recommending precautionary principles should apply for wireless technology where human health and safety are concerned; especially in the case of children, for whom the physiological effects of microwaves are more pronounced. 
Fletcher's piece is available here. Below is my response to the editor of the Saanich News, the local edition of Black's province-wide paper where I found the original editorial, and the B.C. Green Party's response.
Parsing the Truth Through Tom Fletcher's Static

Mr. Fletcher's amusing attack on the federal and provincial Green Parties' opposition to BC Hydro's controversial 'Smart Meter' project based on the health hazards wireless technology pose missed its mark, if he hoped to put to rest growing safety concerns.
Merry Fletcher says;
"...[A]fter many years of study, the evidence cell phones and such devices cause illness remains precisely zero."
I'm not precisely sure of Fletch's definition of the word "precisely," or "zero" for that matter, but it took me about three minutes to find an extremely persuasive argument contrary to his statement of "fact"

The counter argument comes from Dr. Devra Davis, the president of the Environmental Health Trust of San Francisco and London, England. While not wearing her tin-foil hat, Dr. Davis found time to get a few University degrees, her doctorate in public health being just one, write a few books on cancer research, and share a Nobel Prize, among other things. She also contributed to the World Health Organization, the body whose findings on radio frequency dangers Tom ridicules, equating their citing of a 2B cancer classification to the hazards posed by "pickled vegetables." Ho ho.

I recommend your readers, and at least one of your writers, check Dr. Davis' work, published in this instance as 'More Inconvenient Truths About Cell Phone Radiation' at the Huffington Post, before accepting Tom Fletcher's "static" on the issue.

What's left out of Tom's opinion piece, and what intrigues me about the Hydro scheme, is: How can we suddenly afford to chuck close to a billion dollars (if you believe Hydro's press releases) at this project; and how come there has been "zero" oversight, the BC Utilities Commission being entirely cut out of its mandated watchdog role?  
Chris Cook
Re: Green Party gets lost in the static (B.C. Views, Aug. 3).

Tom Fletcher is correct. The 2009 BC Greens platform had a timeline that included smart metering by 2012. We did not recommend wireless meters because, as Fletcher mentioned, we have precautionary policy on EMF radiation.

Our policy was revised in 2010. The initiatives we wanted implemented prior to new meters – feed-in tariffs, time-of-day pricing and regional management boards – were not in progress at the end of 2009 so that the timeline for smart metering was eliminated.

Without being tied to substantial energy conservation, BC Hydro’s smart meter program is simply a different and more expensive way to collect data. A billion dollars invested in conservation and energy retrofits, diversifying to renewable energy or any number of priorities should precede changing meters.

Fletcher may dismiss health concerns associated with Wi-Fi but people have a right to feel safe and healthy in their own homes. Those who chose not to use wireless technology should not be forced to do so.

As I said at the news conference, wireless smart meters are a technological solution looking for a problem. With shrewd marketing, the companies that developed wireless smart meters have become wealthy with sole-source contracts from government after government. At some point, given deficits and debt load, we will need to reverse the decision-making process so that long-term plans actually precede implementation of new technology.

Other jurisdictions are putting moratoriums on or cancelling the installation of smart meters. We are recommending BC Hydro listen to valid privacy, security and health concerns and change course.

Jane Sterk, Leader

Green Party of B.C.
In defense of original statement of support for Federal Green Party stance against the smart meter program:

Editor: RE: Smart Meter Concerns Raised at Local Council.

As leader of the Green Party of BC today I called for BC Hydro to halt installation of ‘smart meters’ until a proper energy plan for BC is developed (http://www.greenparty.bc.ca/ news/).  The Green Party believes in ‘the precautionary principle’ which says that if something might be dangerous we should not use that something until we have come to understand those dangers or the lack thereof.

The BC Greens have the support of Elizabeth May, Federal MP for Saanich,  “The Green Party of Canada, through a resolution of our entire membership, has called for the current inadequate Health Canada regulations to be upgraded to the equivalent of the EMF regulations in Germany,” says May.

So while the Green Party is willing to explore the potential dangers of wireless technologies, paramount is a proper energy plan for BC.  We need feed-in-tariffs, time of day pricing, incentives for conservation, and a distributed grid.  A cost benefit analysis needs to be presented to the public.  Before we blanket install any new technology, a real plan must be put to the regulator and the people of BC.

Jane Sterk,

Leader, Green Party of BC,


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