A recent study has shown that, should the Beech Ridge wind project be allowed to proceed, approximately 487 million West Virginians will find employment, directly or indirectly, as a result.
Well, 487 million is only approximate … and, truth be told, I did it on my dart board at home, but hey! … isn’t that what today’s “journalism” is all about? At least I told you where the estimate came from!
Take a look at this article from Public News Service (“News in the Public Interest”) : “Windfarm Bringing Jobs to West Virginia”
The journalist’s words are in bold, mine are not: “West Virginia is known for its coal industry, but as the country changes to new kinds of electrical generation, some state residents are getting work in the new, green-power industry. A researcher at Johns Hopkins estimates that the Beech Ridge Wind Project, near the border of Greenbrier and Nicolas counties, could ultimately generate as many as 1,000 jobs, directly and indirectly.” So, where is the link to the study? What is the name of the researcher? What modeling software was used? What input provided the output? What kind of jobs? How many are temporary? How many are permanent? How can it be determined that any or all of these jobs will include “some state residents?” Do industrial wind projects really deliver on the job promise?
The article continues: Johnny Burns is a heavy equipment operator and a member of Operating Engineers, Local 132. Burns has been one of the 200-member construction crew. He says he’s glad to have a job where he doesn’t have to leave the area.
“Lots of times you have to go away to do it. This one is one of the closest jobs I’ve had to home in a long time. Made me happy, made my wife happy .” Excellent! Interviewing people impacted is a good thing.
Opponents of wind farms, including Beech Ridge, have pointed to reports that the windmills could kill birds and bats. The industry argues that the problem is avoided by putting the wind farms in the right places and using the right technology. Which opponents of Beech Ridge? I assume finding Mr. Burns was pretty easy, but those folks at Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy (MCRE), PO Box 1, Williamsburg, WV 24991 are nearly impossible to locate, even on their web site – “Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy. “Heck, it took me nearly two mouse clicks to find this; “If you have Questions? email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call (304) 645-7169” They didn’t even return my initial email for almost two hours! Oh! … the horror of it all!
Burns says the construction managers have tried to keep their impact down – for instance, by saving many of the removed trees. “He instructed us to place the stumps root-system down, so they would sprout back.” Wonderful, that should take care of the bats and birds choosing to hang around waiting for the trees to spout.
Some local people have objected to what they say will be the impact on the scenery. Burns says not everyone feels that way. “In my opinion, they’re beautiful to look at.” Spoken like a true Mountaineer! I don’t think much of those boring old trees, mountain tops, lush valleys with streams, and the ridgelines filled with wildlife either. They are so over-rated! Give me a long row of mechanical tinker toys the size of a twirling 747 jet anytime. Heck, if there’s nothing else to do, just grab a catcher’s mitt and a few of the kiddies and head up to the turbines to catch the bats and birds as they fall out of the sky. Oh boy … talk about bonding with nature!
Burns says it looks like the wind turbines will start going on-line this spring. Even when construction is finished, the wind farm will employ a maintenance crew for decades, as long as it generates power. Darn, why’d he have to throw that “as long as it generates power” into the mix. That will probably ruin everything!
The point of this exercise is to point out how not providing resources to back your statements, or only presenting one side of an argument when the other side is very accessible, might portray your journalistic efforts as, at best – weak or, at worst – biased. That is not to say that the writer of the post at Public News Service is either, it’s just that his article leads me to conclude that my choices are limited.
So what’s the big deal, you might ask? It’s only one little article in the thousands that fly about the internet on the topic of industrial wind. The real issur here is that serious groups with serious issues deserve to be heard. Groups like the Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy work very hard with few resources to get their message into the public debate. One single article such as the one in Public News Service touting 1,000 jobs for West Virginians is easily swallowed by a public anxious for the condensation of complicated issues into one or two paragraphs. Posts such as this tend to unfairly set back the educational efforts of the citizen’s groups and, frankly, The reporting should not be limited to one point of view.
The internet provides for a quick search of source material. Unless the Johns Hopkins researcher contacted the writer directly, one would assume the writer found it somewhere. With a little “googling,” I suspect a search of “Beech Ridge Wind” would have surfaced the same 26,000 links I found. Included in that list are many references to groups with a view countering the industrial wind position. Not making that effort to provide everything possible for the reader to consume or pursue appears to me to be Public News dis-Service.
So for any of our readers that choose to hear another side of the story of Beech Ridge and industrial wind in the region, here are just a few of the links you can view:
- National Wind Watch
- Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy
- West Virginia Highlands Voice
- Industrial Wind Action Group
- Save Western Ohio
- Stop Ill Wind
- Virginia Wind
- Brightside Acres
- Wind Power Facts
I’ll even give you the main site for the industrial wind groups – American Wind Energy Association.
Not only that, if you need any additional assistance, we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction if you leave your request in the comment section on this post.
We make every effort to be accurate. Should you find any errors, omissions or broken links please notify me at the comment section to this post. We welcome all comments.