Berkeley cell phone ordinance wins again!

The city of Berkeley won against the powerful CTIA, the wireless industry association who appealed Berkeley’s ordinance which requires cellphone retailers to provide customers with this notice:

“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

The appeal was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges determined that “there was no irreparable harm based on the First Amendment or preemption, that the balance of equities tipped in Berkeley’s favor, that the ordinance was in the public interest, and that an injunction would harm that interest.”

More information about the ordinance and the lawsuit here: http://www.saferemr.com/2014/11/berkeley-cell-phone-right-to-know.html

Privacy International & the Electronic Frontier Foundation Raise Concerns About Privacy Implications of Smart Meters

Privacy International (PI) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief in the case of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness v. City of Naperville before the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

PI and EFF argue that usage data from smart electricity meters differs quantitatively and qualitatively from analog electricity meters, revealing intimate details regarding a person’s private in-home activities.

PI and EFF argue that an Illinois District Court’s decision that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in aggregate electrical usage data, regardless of whether the data is collected by a smart meter or analog meter, is flawed and that the Court’s decision should be reversed.

Patterns generated by smart meter data can be used to infer how many individuals reside in a home as well as their activities, habits, and rhythms of movement, including when they leave their home and when they go to sleep.

Smart meter data can even reveal which appliances are functioning at a given time, allowing one to infer, for example, when residents consume meals, take showers, watch TV, and use exercise equipment.

Privacy International Legal Officer Scarlet Kim said: “The transition from analog meters to smart meters — from a single monthly reading of energy usage to thousands of data points per month — transforms a blunt record of kilowatts consumed into a deeply personal snapshot of a person’s life. The data protection and privacy implications of collecting this data are not confined to Illinois but resonate around the world.”

Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Attorney Jamie Williams said: “The lower court made false assumptions about how smart meter technology works, and its decision is a threat to the privacy of the 57 million and counting American homes with this new technology.”

For more information: https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/02/28/privacy-advocacy-groups-amicus-brief-on-smart-meters/

CA Department of Public Health sued for hiding cell phone radiation warnings

Dr. Joel Moskowitz, Director of UC Berkeley School of Public Health has sued the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for failing to provide a tax payer funded study on cell phone radiation risks. The CDPH refused to comment on the case.

Attorney Claudia Polsky states this is “tax payer funded scientific research over a period of years resulted in a review of the scientific literature about cell phone risks and the production of a document that was supposed to reach the public informing people about how to reduce risks from cell phone use.”

Dr. Moskowitz was asked why the state is trying to suppress the document. He stated, “They [CDPH] claim that they are concerned that this would lead to chaos and confusion among the public. I suspect that they were afraid of the reaction of the telecommunications industry should they publish this document; in fact, they even argued that in their brief.”

UPDATE: In response to media pressure the CDPH pre-released the cell phone advisory to the SF Chronicle. Here it is:  CDPH cell phone document April 2014

Sebastopol- Enforce the smart meter ban!

SMART meter health effectsDecember 1, 2016

An open letter to the City of Sebastopol, City Manager, Council and Staff,

Enforce the smart meter ban in Sebastopol!

In 2013 Sebastopol passed an urgency ordinance banning smart meter installation because they are a threat to health, safety and community welfare. PG&E threatened to sue, so the city did not enforce the ban. PG&E backed off installations, until recently when PG&E met with the city manager to discuss plans to deploy smart meters in Sebastopol.

We are asking the city to enforce the ban because the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has failed to adequately regulate the safety of smart meters.
• The President of the CPUC, Michael Peevey, knew smart meters were causing people pain, and he abetted PG&E’s pay to opt-out scheme, and delayed CPUC regulation.
• A pay to opt-out program is an unlawful response to smart meter problems, including privacy and property rights, radiation health risks, fire hazards, and co-located meters.
• Mayor Michael Kyes and Sarah Gurney spoke to the CPUC judge asking for community opt-out. The CPUC dismissed community opt-out without taking testimony or holding hearings.
• EMF Safety Network, and three other groups have appeals citing violations of law pending. A CPUC attorney stated the CPUC will rule on those appeals in December 2016.

We ask you to stand up to PG&E and enforce the ban until the CPUC adequately regulates smart meters, including the right of cities to avoid them.

Please agendize this issue for Dec.19th.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sandi Maurer,
Director EMF Safety Network

Chapter 8.58 SMART METERS (TEMPORARY MORATORIUM ON THE INSTALLATION OF SMART METERS) https://goo.gl/49n4Yf
Overview of PG&E/CPUC emails on smart meters  https://goo.gl/AzfMQU
Summary of Evidence on Smart Meter Fires: https://goo.gl/ZQQH64
EMF Safety Network CPUC Appeal (Rehearing Request) https://goo.gl/updB6M

Berkeley WINS Right to Know cell phone labeling law

Photo credit: Environmental Health Trust

The city of Berkeley California was recently sued by the wireless industry CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) over their Cell Phone Right to Know ordinance.  The ordinance requires retailers to warn customers about cell phone risks.  Berkeley’s advisory at point of sale states: “To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

CTIA argued the ordinance would be misleading, give off an impression of harm, and would violate retailers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to distribute information they might disagree with.

In September U.S. District Court Judge Chen ruled that Berkeley’s law is not a violation of the industry’s first amendment rights, but did tell Berkeley to remove one controversial line about the risk to children, which they did.

Last week’s hearing was to remove the ban, now that the line has been removed, and allow implementation.  Ted Olson, attorney for the CTIA, sent Judge Chen 25 pages of further argument after his original decision. The Judge agreed to allow further argument last week.  Larry Lessig, Harvard Constitutional Law Professor and Robert Post, Dean of Yale Law School are defending Berkeley pro bono.

Yesterday, less than one week after the court hearing,  Judge Chen removed the ban on the Berkeley law despite CTIA’s numerous arguments. Chen also denied the wireless group’s motion to stay his order dissolving the injunction pending appeal.

Maine Supreme Court smart meter ruling ignores evidence of harm

This week the Maine Supreme Court upheld the finding of utility regulators regarding smart meter safety.  The Court supported this difficult to follow position: “It is one thing to make a finding that evidence is credible regarding potential harm and quite another to find there is a legally credible threat of Riskyharm—that a credible threat of harm is in fact credible: likely and probable to result in harm.”  

The court weighed health and safety precautions with utilities bottom line.  “The Commission, therefore, properly rejected Friedman’s approach because it would require an impractically high threshold for ensuring safety, and as a result would render nearly all utilities unsafe.”

The Court upheld this position, even though they knew there is evidence of risk. “The Commission acknowledged that there had been some evidence presented of potential future risk posed generally by RF exposure,…” 

The key to the ruling is what the court calls, “balancing the potential for harm against the usefulness and pervasiveness of the technology at issue.”

This ruling culminates a four year legal battle in Maine over the health and safety effects of smart meters.  Even though the legal burden was on the utility (CMP) to show smart meters were safe, the Court ignored this and placed the burden on the customer to pay to avoid the risk of pulsed radiation smart meters emit.

Marlboro2Ed Friedman stated: “ The Court has miserably failed the people of Maine.  They ignored independent testimony from international experts on the credible threat of harm RF exposures at smart meter levels pose, and instead chose to believe the “Marlboro Man” that smoking is good for us.”

Maine Supreme court ruling: http://www.mainecoalitiontostopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-ME-19-Friedman-Appeal-Decision-1-26-16.pdf

Summary of Evidence on Smart Meter Fires

 BePreparedSMfire In California and around world, smart meters have been linked to fires, explosions, and damaged appliances.  For every fire started at the meter, in an appliance, or on wiring, smart meter causality should be suspected.

There has been a recent spate of fires in Guerneville, California which some people have blamed on the homeless.  The cause of the fires are still under investigation, but some have been linked to electrical wiring, faulty heaters, and possibly arson.  The link to smart meters has not been investigated.

A Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) whistleblower Pat Wrigley, who worked as a meter reader for 9 1/2 years testified at California Public Utilities Commission judicial hearing.  He stated:  “Smart meters cause fires” and “PG&E is covering up the risk”.

Two California  fire captains contacted us about two different types of problems from smart meter arcing.

Matt Becket’s refrigerator motor intermittently sped up and their lights became brighter.  He said, “As a seventeen year veteran and current Fire Captain this caused me to become very concerned.”  The smart meter on his house was replaced with an analog, and there were no problems, until a new smart meter was reinstalled.  This time he had two surge protectors burn out.

Another fire captain Ross writes, “I was at home doing yard work in the late afternoon when my wife came outside and told me that “half the power was off again”. This had been happening on and off for about two weeks … I then went outside to where my meter was and I could instantly smell the burnt electrical smoke. As I was looking at the meter I inadvertently placed my hand on the meter itself and almost burned my hand.”

Despite the above claims from knowledgeable whistleblowers, and media reports linking smart meters to fires and explosions, this issue has not received the serious attention it deserves.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is charged with overseeing utility safety.  They knew about the risk of smart meter fires in 2009, and their staff investigated in 2013.  The CPUC told the Governor and Legislature they found no problem.  If there’s no problem, why aren’t the details of their investigation public?  Why did they wait four years to investigate?

PG&E states they are now monitoring temperature and voltage readings of smart meters for hazardous conditions, which proves there’s a problem. If there was no problem they would not need to monitor these conditions.

Please see the Summary of Evidence on Smart Meter Fires which is culled from the EMF Safety Network Smart Meter Fires and Explosions page and documents this hazard with links to more information.  We have been tracking smart meter fires since 2010.