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Why It’s So Hard to Challenge New Cell Towers

President Clinton Signing The 1996 Telecommunications Act

With increasing concerns about the potential negative health effects resulting from exposure to EMF radiation from cell towers, more communities are trying to fight the placement of such antennas. One of the problems such communities encounter is that municipalities are banned from denying cell sites based on health concerns.

FCC LogoThe 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act was a significant overhaul to the nation’s rules governing telecommunications. It received a lot of attention because of how it deregulated the industry, leading to consolidation of ownership of the nation’s information infrastructure.

Less well-known about this piece of legislation is that it prohibited states and localities from preventing the installation of new cell antennas due to health concerns.

That’s right— federal law makes it illegal to deny a license for a new cell site due to health concerns. Even when— as is the case in Cliffridge Park, California— the proposed site is an elementary school.

And so, even as the body of science that demonstrates negative health effects resulting from such exposures continues to grow, the law prevents citizens and residents from opposing such antenna placements based on that body of research.


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