PORT ANGELES — Dozens have urged the Clallam County Planning Commission to defy federal law and recommend prohibiting 5G technology from reaching the county.
Many told the commission that they haven’t seen studies showing that the emerging wireless technology is safe and expressed concerns about exposure to electromagnetic fields.
“Are you willing to risk the health and safety of the children in Clallam County in your recommendation to the county commissioners or will you see this an an opportunity to question an order that is in direct opposition to Clallam County’s stated mission and goals, which you as volunteers work to uphold,” said Eleanor Rose, during a work session Wednesday.
“I would like to state clearly and unequivocally that you do not have my consent to experiment on my children with 5G technology.”
A new technology, 5G uses microcells for wireless networks. It promises faster speeds when connecting to the network and the ability to connect many devices to the internet without bogging it down.
The Clallam County Planning Commission is currently reviewing a draft amendment to its wireless communications facilities ordinance.
The ordinance does not specifically address 5G, but much of the discussion about the ordinance has revolved around the technology.
The Planning Commission is an advisory board and makes recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners. The regulations do not apply within incorporated areas in Clallam County.
During a three-hour public hearing Feb. 20 the Planning Commission rejected in a 6-2 vote a motion to recommend the draft amendment to the Board of County Commissioners.
Members Connie Beauvais, Steve Gale, Gary Gleason, Leo Leonard, Jane Hielman and Robert Miller voted against while members Scott Clausen and Tom Montgomery voted in favor.
The Planning Commission will discuss the ordinance again at 6 p.m. April 3 at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.
Planning Manager Steve Gray said Wednesday the county’s current ordinance was adopted in 2001 and that 5G is allowed.
He said the county code regulates priorities where towers go, height requirements and camouflaging, but not the specific technologies, such as 3G, 4G and 5G.
“We don’t believe we have any 5G deployed, but if someone did come in and that antenna was going to be providing 5G, that would not be precluded by the current ordinance,” he said. “It would be allowed, but there would be permits that apply.”
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 says that local governments cannot “prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services” and cannot “regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.”
Planning Commission member Tom Montgomery said he would like a legal opinion from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office before the commission makes a decision.
“We’ve been operating under the assumption that federal law is supreme and that federal law does not allow local government to prohibit the types of transmission the federal government supports,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery questioned whether those who are opposed to deployment of the technology would be more effective if they brought their issues to the Federal Communications Commission and federal representatives.
Beauvais said people need to go “wherever it takes to have their voices heard.”
She said she wants more information about what legal constraints the county has in regulating the technology.
She questioned whether the county can look at the distance between poles.
“Could we say there will be no wireless communications put within 2,000 feet of another pole,” Beauvais said. “That would stop this new technology and keep it directed at 3G and 4G.”
Clausen said he is against 5G and said that he is concerned about satellites that will be launched to support the technology.
“Regardless of how you feel about installation in Clallam County, you’re going to face 20,000 satellites emitting on you every day,” Clausen said. “Personally, I think the best we can do at our level is we have to make our health concerns known. The greater effort needs to be diverted to our representatives.”
Harvey Kailin told the Planning Commission it needs to defy federal law and oppose deployment of 5G.
“We have an enemy and that enemy is Washington,” he said. “You’re on the side of the enemy or you’re on the side of the people.
“To hell with the law,” he said. “It’s time we stood up for the safety and wellbeing of the people and stop playing games with those idiots back in Washington who have no respect for us.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].