Regulators Renew EMF Interest

By Published On: August 21, 2004

Overwhelming public concern about electromagnetic fields (EMFs) has surfaced in the California Public Utilities Commission process leading to approval of the Jefferson-Martin transmission line. As a result, the commission opened a rulemaking proceeding August 19 to determine whether regulators should require additional steps to reduce EMF exposure. Commission president Mike Peevey?s philosophy of prudent avoidance that does not require a certain threshold of utility spending won out over commissioner Loretta Lynch?s plan. She pushed to require that utilities spend at least 4 percent of a transmission project?s cost to reduce EMF exposure. This marks the first action on potential EMF exposure since the commission published a report by the Department of Health Services in 2002. That document, produced at a ratepayer cost of $7 million, was kept secret for months under Governor Gray Davis. It reported no clear correlation between electromagnetic field exposure and health risks, such as cancer, but did note a connection between exposure and pregnancy complications. It stated that Department of Health Services scientists were inclined to believe that electromagnetic fields can cause some degree of increased risk. ?DHS does not lead to the conclusion? that there should be a numerical threshold for EMF exposure, Peevey said. He noted that humans are exposed to varying degrees of EMFs every day, some of which are easier to reduce than others. He said that it?s ?premature? to change commission policy on the matter.

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