Precautionary Principle in San Francisco


30 January 2002
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Precautionary Principle Arises in San Francisco (Kelley).
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 04:42:10 -0600
From: Roy Beavers <>
Organization: EMF-L List
To: guru <>

..........From EMF-L.......

Hi everybody:

Libby Kelley has invited my attention to the following -- from the San Francisco Examiner.......

It suggests to me that FINALLY at least a few in America have begun to understand the Precautionary Principle......

The very well written article (by Doug Loranger, neighborhood activist) makes it very clear that the fault lies with the 1996 Telecommunications Act!!!

That Act is another example of the influence that vested interests have been able to exert in Washington under the existing government by cash laden insiders system.  Those of us who tried to resist the powerful telecom $$$$$$$ lobby in 1995-96 know well that it is/was the same situation you are now reading about vis-a-vis the energy industry's role in shaping the national energy policy.

The provision which author Loranger highlights below -- the 1996 Telecom Act's restrictions against local decision making in the case of towers -- is not only very probably UNCONSTITUTIONAL ... it was recognized by the telecom lobby at the time that they were getting away with murderous exploitation of the public.

The telecom lobby, led by Vice President Al Gore, reasoned that even if that provision of the Act were later to be declared unconstitutional, the telecom industry would already have built and located all their towers before the tedious and lengthy legal process would succeed in getting the issue to the Supreme Court.

That is now a well recognized and heartily embraced tactic by the special interests in Washington:  ignore the possible "constitutional implications" if you can accomplish your objective within the time frame of the tedious and lengthy process of litigating the matter up to the level of the Supreme Court.....

You see the consequences of that flaw in our system ... below......


Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.....

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do  nothing.....     .......Edmund Burke (1729-1797)


Publication date: 01/27/2002
San Francisco Examiner Extra

Cell towers are dangerous, but we're
not allowed to say

By Doug Loranger
Special To The Examiner

ON Jan. 14, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal by Sprint PCS to place three cellular phone antennas in my predominantly residential neighborhood, bringing to a close an 18-month struggle by neighbors to prevent their installation.

The vote was 10-1 and marks a growing awareness among our elected officials that radiation-emitting antennas are a major cause for concern among thousands of San Francisco residents.

It is also a rare example of our government taking a stand against a well - financed, vigilant army of lobbyists acting on behalf of the telecommunications industry in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country. This industry would prefer that people remain unaware of the controversy in the scientific community over the potential dangers of the "wireless revolution" and that our government stay answerable only to them.

Microwave radiation is what cellphones and other wireless devices use to transmit their signals. These signals in turn depend upon antennas to relay calls, data and other information from one location to another.

According to the Nov. 25, 2000, issue of the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet, there is a growing body of scientific research linking microwave radiation to conditions ranging from sleep disorders, memory loss and suppression of immune response to leukemia and other forms of cancer. These studies also suggest that those with developing or weakened immune systems, such as children, the elderly and the ill, are particularly at risk.

The root problem in San Francisco and elsewhere across the United States is the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, which says local governments cannot deny permits for antennas based on health and safety concerns about microwave radiation as long as antennas meet emission standards set by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC has no expertise in public-health matters, and its guidelines are among the least protective in the world. Switzerland, for example, has standards that are more than 100 times more stringent.

Using this federal preemption as their mandate, wireless carriers have saturated San Francisco with more than 2,400 wireless antennas in the past 5½ years, according to a partial inventory compiled by The City's Planning Department in response to community pressure. With so many antennas now in operation, residents of my neighborhood were able to argue convincingly before the Board of Supervisors that the additional antennas proposed were not necessary for Sprint's network because the company already provides service to Sprint customers in the area.

Why Sprint claimed it needed these antennas is uncertain. What is certain is that we were not able to argue that the antennas pose a potential health threat. If we had, The City might have been sued by Sprint.

THE number of San Franciscans concerned about this issue is telling: 2,800 Richmond district residents signed a petition against an antenna site on Geary Boulevard; 800 residents in Chinatown; 1,000 neighbors in Noe Valley; 7,000 postal workers and supporters opposed antennas proposed for post offices. The list goes on.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano has introduced legislation designed to strengthen The City's guidelines for antenna placement. In Congress, Senators Leahy and Jeffords of Vermont have prepared legislation that would overturn the health and safety preemption under the Telecommunications Act. Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the wireless companies are attempting to revoke local zoning authority from cities like San Francisco so that the public's concerns will continue to be ignored.

Concerned voters need to contact their elected representatives in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to ensure that an appropriate balance is found between the convenience of wireless technologies and the protection of our health and safety.

Doug Loranger is the founding organizer of the San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union (SNAFU), a citywide coalition of residents and neighborhood organizations that focuses on antenna-related issues.

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