Palouse Environmental Update

Whitman County

It looks as though the cell tower proposed to be built atop Bald Butte will not be allowed to damage the Palouse Prairie ecosystem at that location, thanks to public comment and the Whitman County Critical Areas Ordinance (which includes Palouse Prairie as a critical habitat type that requires preservation).

City of Moscow

Moscow’s Planning and Zoning Commission is updating the 2009 Comprehensive Plan. It currently includes Palouse Prairie, although there is likely not much Palouse Prairie within the city limits. One of the Natural Areas implementation actions in the current plan is to “Promote the protection of the remaining areas of Palouse Prairie, utilize restoration methods for open spaces and retired farmland, and encourage use of native plant species in landscaping applications.”

Moscow’s Sustainable Environment Commission (SEC) is working with the Planning and Zoning Commission to include more recognition of the effects of climate change in the new plan, and they are expecting to work on water issues. There should be an opportunity in the coming months for community input.

The SEC has drafted a letter asking the City to consider the installation of solar power in the construction of the new city police station.

The City of Moscow is seeking nominations for the Mayor’s 2018 Earth Day awards to be given out in April. The awards recognize Moscow residents, organizations, and businesses for activities conducive to environmental sustainability. The SEC will prepare its own nominations, and will organize nominations received from Moscow community members. A final list of nominees will be forwarded to the Mayor for consideration. Watch for information from the City about how to make nominations.

More LED street light replacements are coming to Moscow. If you have or have had issues with the new LED lights, let Avista and the Sustainable Environment Commission know your concerns.

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition

On January 25 the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition filed a legal brief to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s decision that the Federal Highway Administration and Idaho Transportation Department’s Environmental Impact Statement regarding the U.S. Highway 95 Thorn Creek to Moscow realignment/upgrade was acceptable “by the slimmest of margins.”

The agencies have 28 days to file their response briefs. However, the Highway Administration requested and was granted a 30-day extension. A court date is expected sometime in 2019. In mediation, the Transportation Department (ITD) refused to consider anything but their eastern alignment. Meanwhile, ITD seems to be doing nothing to make U.S. Highway 95 just south of Moscow any safer.

In 2017 ITD applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit under the Clean Water Act to damage wetlands in their pursuit of the eastern alignment of the highway south of Moscow. However, they did not provide sufficient information for the Corps to make a determination, and they have not yet provided the required information to the Corps.

Smart Meters

Avista Corp. did a demonstration project in Pullman installing wireless smart meters for electrical power use. They are planning to install smart meters in Moscow. I was told that Moscow customers will be allowed to opt-out of wireless. (Apparently this has not been the case for Sandpoint residents.)

There are many health concerns with wireless meters. The Moscow Sustainable Environment Commission has indicated a willingness to listen to residents’ smart meter health concerns and discuss them with local Avista representatives. For those of us dwelling outside of Moscow and supplied by Clearwater Power: their new smart metering is supposed to be wired. At least, that was what they said several years ago; we need to confirm that that is still the case.

Avista Corp has been installing wireless smart meters in Sandpoint, Idaho. Last October, a Sandpoint resident filed a petition with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to allow consumers to use analog meters instead of radio frequency electro-magnetic radiation-emitting smart meters. The petitioner asserts that RF-EMR is rated by the World Health Organization as a Class 2B carcinogen. In November, the commission issued a summons directing Avista to answer the complaint.

In their response, Avista’s vice president and chief counsel claims that the “new generation” of smart meters’ power level is significantly lower than the emissions of cordless phones and wireless routers. It should be noted, however, that one can choose not to have a cordless phone or a wireless router in his or her home.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission looked at health and safety issues of smart meters in 2012 and found then that there was insufficient demonstrable and credible evidence that meters present legitimate safety concerns.

There is a large amount of evidence that the wireless meters do have significant health effects. There is good information on the health effects of wireless meters at including

Cindy Sage Criticizes Smart Meters

Cindy Sage, nationally renowned environmental land use consultant and author of assessments of wireless and cell tower installations, reviews her critique of the newest EPRI Technical Report designed to reassure the public about the safety of Smart Meters.

Is This Even Legal?

Attorney Larry Bragman is Mayor of the town of Fairfax in Marin County, California, where he introduced and authored Fairfax’s 2010 groundbreaking Smart Meter Moratorium. Josh Hart is the director of Stop Smart Meters, a journalist and activist who is leading a citizen revolt against wireless utility meters. They both join the show to discuss how citizens can protect their civil rights, privacy, and health from the proliferation of wireless technologies.

The following is from Paleo Magazine (which the Moscow Food Co-op carries):

“The wireless industry has been allowed to grow unchecked and virtually unregulated, with fundamental questions on public health impact routinely ignored.” [N. Alster]
“We have an industry that’s in total denial of the enormous body of scientific research which proves rediofrequency exposure causes cancer, that some people are excessively vulnerable, and some will develop Electro-Hypersensitivity.” [Dr. D. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment]
“For decades, biomedical researchers around the world have been linking non-ionizing, non-thermal radiofrequency with adverse health and environmental effects. Even dating back to 1971, a report out of the Naval Medical Research Institute documented over 2,000 references on the biological responses to radiofrequency and microwave radiation. … these biological effects include: central nervous system effects, autonomic-nervous system effects, blood disorders, vascular disorders, metabolic disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, endocrine-gland changes, enzyme and other biochemical changes, and more.”

Main, A. Dec/Jan 2018.  Paleo Magazine. Should the Internet Really Be Everything? What’s Not So Smart About Our Smart-Tech Future. 70-73.

Baenen, M. Dec 10, 2017. Bonner County Daily Bee. Avista Plans Not Consistent With Public Interest.

Kinnaird, K. Feb 09, 2018. Bonner County Daily Bee. IPUC Dismisses Complaint Over Smart Meter,.

The story on Sandpoint was picked up by the Associated Press (AP).


by David Hall.