Dear City of Portola,

Thank you for carefully considering the following facts and recommendations related to the planned Verizon cell tower near EPHC.

In 2020, despite the strenuous objections of many community members (including the Portola librarian and EPHC Hospital board of directors who voiced concerns about the proximity of the proposed cell tower to the healthcare organization employees, long-term care residents, hospital and clinic patients), the City of Portola approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for a new Verizon 4G/ 5G cell tower next to EPHC. 
These new transmitters pose an urgent and immediate threat to our community and our hospital, just as we are struggling with the most serious health crisis in decades. A DC Circuit Court ruling against the FCC in August undermines the very foundation of Verizon’s claims of safety, upon which your CUP approval was based.
Perhaps city council members felt their hands were tied by the Telecom Act of 1996, despite the fact that regulations were based upon the scientific research of a quarter-century ago.  Perhaps city council members would have decided against the CUP had they known that a few months subsequent to their decision, the DC Circuit Court would find the agency regulating Telecom — the FCC — had failed to update safety standards in line with the current, valid, scientific evidence.  Since this new court ruling in August of 2021, it is now imperative for the City Council members to revisit this vital issue impacting the safety of Portola’s environment and the health of local residents.
We believe that communications between city council members and those opposing the tower in 2019 and 2020 were unfortunately impeded by your city attorney, limiting access to facts and circumstances which may have led the city to make a different determination on the application. 
City council access to the public during controversial planning applications is crucial to outcomes that are consistent with adopted plans and the will of the community. When such access is interfered with, the city and its residents can suffer. We would strongly suggest that you obtain an alternate legal opinion regarding meeting with interested parties individually during a planning application process, as this issue will very likely rise again. 
According to aviation safety experts who testified at the hearing, the tower would pose an RF interference and potential crash risk to helicopters using the EPHC heli-pad and interfere with future expansion of the hospital. The CEOs of several airlines and FAA leaders recently wrote an urgent letter to President Biden, after which Verizon and ATT withdrew their 5G deployment date until safety procedures can be updated, as you may have seen in the news about 5G interfering with plane (and helicopter) altimeters.
We believe the landowner in this situation, Mr. Laurie, has likewise been misled and taken advantage of by Verizon and therefore has not been able to provide true informed consent, and is at risk for severe safety and health impacts, having been taken advantage of by Verizon into signing a meagre contract in his desperation to afford fire insurance.
During the hearings, Verizon guaranteed Portola city council members that the microwave power levels were well within safety guidelines (“2.09% of Maximum Public Exposure”) and that these guidelines were based on science and human health. It  has now become clear that this is not the case.
The decision to approve the conditional use permit over the objections of many community members was at least in part based on these assurances. These “guidelines” are over 26 years old and have not been updated as new technologies are introduced, despite the fact that most of the independent science has shown biological harm to humans and the environment, especially damaging to the neurological development of the fetus, children and adolescents. 
Many of us have been citing these studies as evidence that these “guidelines” (not standards!) are not protective of human or environmental health. Now the courts are beginning to agree with the thousands of scientists and physicians calling for policy change.
In August, the DC Circuit Court ruled that FCC RF exposure guidelines ignored volumes of scientific studies showing non-thermal harm and that its RF “guidelines” are “capricious, arbitrary and not evidence based, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).” For more on this, check out the Environmental Trust website.
We ask that the City of Portola revisit and revoke Verizon’s permit, in light of the DC Circuit Court’s August decision, which is linked here in full:
We strongly encourage you to take the time to read and consider this document. Are you confident that existing rules are adequate to protect the public? If not, you must act in accordance with state and federal constitutional requirements of local elected officials to protect the public health and safety.
Beyond revocation of the permit, there are many other steps which the city can take to be on the right side of history, to embrace a “fiber to the home” (FTTH) network which will handle future capacity needs and avoid serious risks to our safety, for example:
• passing a resolution to demand that new safety standards based on science are put in place by the FCC and FDA
• holding meetings and hearings on the issue
• establishing independent RF monitoring within the City of Portola, including Digital Path dishes broadcasting microwave beams at head level along school walking routes, in violation of (existing and lax!) FCC rules.
• perhaps most importantly for the future, adopting a comprehensive telecommunications ordinance to guide future development in a way that is consistent with the goals and aspirations of city residents.
We appreciate your time and consideration of our request.
Cc: EPHC Board of Directors
Portola City Manager Lauren Knox
Plumas Wired! members
Plumas County Planning Dept.
Plumas Audubon
Friends of Plumas Wilderness
Feather River Action! members
Plumas Library Services
Plumas News
The historic ruling in the case of Environmental Health Trust et al. v. the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found the FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the FCC’s 2019 decision not to update its 1996 exposure limits failed to address impacts of long-term wireless exposure, failed to address unique impacts to children, failed to address the testimony of people injured by wireless radiation, failed to address impacts to wildlife and the environment, and failed to address impacts to the developing brain and reproduction.  
The court remanded the issue back to the FCC for reasoned decision making on numerous issues. The court specifically ordered the FCC to do the following:
  1. “Provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to retain its testing procedures for determining whether cell phones and other portable electronic devices comply with its guidelines.”
  2. “Address the impacts of RF radiation on children, the health implications of long-term exposure to RF radiation, the ubiquity of wireless devices, and other technological developments that have occurred since the Commission last updated its guidelines.” 
  3. “Address the impacts of RF radiation on the environment.”
Share Source: Environmental Health Trust