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Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

bill_MonningThe California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has released its report entitled, “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters.”  What conclusions did CCST reach and what is your opinion about the report’s findings?

A number of constituents have contacted me with their concerns about the potential health and safety effects of Smart Meters. In response to these concerns, Assemblymember Jared Huffman and I asked CCST to study the existing scientific literature on radio frequency exposure standards this past November.

The CCST report concludes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standard based on thermal effects is appropriate and would appear to be fully protective of human health, and that even under “worst case” operational scenarios, Smart Meters produce radio frequency (RF) exposures much lower than the FCC standard.

 

With respect to the thermal effects of RF exposure, the report concludes that there is no credible evidence of documented adverse health impacts at the levels of projected exposure from Smart Meters.  The report makes comparisons to other higher sources of RF exposure, including microwave ovens and cell phones, indicating significantly lower exposure levels from Smart Meters. The CCST report does, however, conclude that there is insufficient scientific data on the potential “non-thermal” health impacts from RF exposure and suggests further study in this area would be beneficial.

While the report offers reassurance, I continue to advocate for a consumer “opt out” or alternative options for ratepayers who harbor fears about potential adverse health impacts of Smart Meters.  An “opt out” option would be the most consistent with protection of the precautionary principle as we move forward to establish energy efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions. People can view the report at ccst.us.

The 2011-12 Legislative Session is beginning and you have two new committee assignments. Can you tell us about the two new committees you are now a member of and some of the issues that may come before you during the next year? With the 2010 Legislative session coming to a close, what are some of your bills that readers may find of interest?

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez appointed me to continue in my capacity as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health and appointed me to two new committees, the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and the Assembly Committee on Budget.

As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, I will be able to continue to advocate for the protection of our oceans and natural resources. As a member of the Budget Committee, I am going to have an opportunity to participate in the very challenging work of reconciling the state’s $26 billion budget deficit.

I look forward to the opportunity to work on these committees, along with my continued membership on the Assembly Committee on Judiciary; the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism & Internet Committee; and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

Last weekend you were the keynote speaker at the Reproductive Rights Network of Santa Cruz County on the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. What was your message for the gathering?

Historically, the Reproductive Rights Network gathering marked an opportunity to celebrate the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that recognizes and protects a woman’s fundamental right to choose.  Unfortunately, there continues to be attacks on a woman’s right to choose in the legal and political arena.

Abortion rights were severely limited in the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and continue to be a focus of opposition in the U.S. Congress. It appears that some decision-making will be referred to the states for consideration prior to the 2014 date of full implementation of ACA.  As such, decision makers in California will have to remain vigilant and work to protect current access to family planning services.

On Jan. 20, 2011, House Republicans introduced the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a measure that is intended to effectively ban insurance coverage for abortion services, including private insurance. The bill would place new tax penalties on individuals and businesses in order to make abortion coverage unavailable in private health insurance policies.

In California, opponents of choice continue to use ballot measures to erode the established rights of women to access family planning and abortion services. These anti-choice ballot measures are designed to divert family planning and healthcare resources to women. As a longtime advocate for a woman’s right to choose, I want to acknowledge the steadfast organizing and public education work championed by the Reproductive Rights Network and its 40 member organizations, and thank them for their tireless work.

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