First, let’s get this out of the way, I’m not a journalist. This is obvious to regulars, but I thought I should make the point for any new readers.
The fact that I’m not a journalist doesn’t prevent me from offering my opinion on the recent Mineral Daily News Tribune (WV) article used to announce power purchase agreements reached between US WindForce and two Maryland institutions enabling the proposed Pinnacle Wind Farm in Mineral County, WV to move forward.
Having stewed on this for a few days and the “count to ten” lesson my Dad taught me finally exhausted, I decided to deal with one of the laziest pieces of reporting I’ve stumbled across in quite some time.
I realize from time to time every paper mails one in. But for this paper to post this “staff report” summary for an issue this important is not only a low water mark for this long serving paper, it is the essence of hypocrisy.
You see, back on November 3, 2009, the Mineral Daily Editor wrote the following in an editorial titled News-Trib digging into pepper spray story: “In contrast, our competitor to the north had only a first-half photo from the Mineral Bowl (I’m assuming the photographer had somewhere else to be in the second half) and none of their Friday-night game coverage featured a by-line from a local writer. Every story lead with the words “FROM STAFF REPORTS,” which is “newspaper-speak” for either listening to the game on the radio or having a coach calling it in to the sports desk.”
Now, I can only assume that the “competitor to the north” is the Cumberland (MD) Times-News. No matter really, because the hypocrisy stems from the Mineral Daily statement “FROM STAFF REPORTS,” which is “newspaper-speak” for either listening to the game on the radio or having a coach calling it in to the sports desk.”
You see, the Mineral Daily piece I’m stewing about begins as follows:
Posted Sep 21, 2010 @ 01:11 PM
PETERSBURG, W.Va. — from STAFF REPOrts [sic]
Well, I’ll be darned! Now the “from STAFF REPORTS” thingy is showing up on the other side of the ledger.
Logic would then seem to follow that the Mineral Daily submission of an article sourced “from STAFF REPORTS,” means that the “coach” was “calling it in.” And it does make one wonder, in this instance, who might be filling the role of “coach.”
Yeah, I know … so they’re a little lazy on one of the most important stories to impact this small community in perhaps decades. What’s the big deal? If you happen to see it as I do, this article is consistent with how the Mineral Daily has reported on the US WindForce story over the past year or so.
Seems to me that, other than boilerplate from the wind developer, attending a few Commissioner meetings and a developer sponsored trip to a nearby wind farm which resulted in two glowing promotional pieces from a Chaucer wannabe chastising NIMBYS as some backward species, this paper has produced nothing of value to its readership to truly evaluate the potential negative impact of the wind project that will dominate the skyline around Keyser, WV for years to come.
In reading the article, for example, one would think the Mineral Daily “staff” should question how the Pinnacle wind farm will be the only one in history, anywhere in the world actually, to generate electricity at 95.7% of the turbine’s rated nameplate capacity – “The 23 turbine project (last I heard, 2.5 MW units) … will generate approximately 55 megawatts.” Wouldn’t you think, after all this time, the Mineral Daily would know better? Heck, even the American Wind Energy Association only claims in the mid-30% range, while actual reporting at many of the receiving grids and wind plants is very often much less, especially at times of real need.
Oh … and the 14,000 homes referenced? That’s probably close to the number of homes in the immediate area surrounding the turbines, yet none will see any of the electricity occasionally puffing out of the turbines along the migratory flyways of the Allegheny Front. Nope! West Virginia, with the blessing of its elected leaders blind support for this new form of mountain top removal, is simply continuing our legacy as an energy resource. And, as history has shown, the wealth accumulated by the average citizen of the state due to its role as a prime provider of the world’s coal is staggering!
Perhaps, rather than the “staff” reporting the comments from David Friend of WindForce expressing how rewarding it is for him to “know the public recognizes the benefits of wind energy,” how about getting a commitment from Mr. Friend that his “partners” will freely publish the actual electric generation statistics from the project and confirm by publication the actual reduction of carbon emissions and closed fossil fueled plant resulting from the installation.
Maybe someone could have asked Mr. Friend for a status report on the the incidental take permit application process with the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Rather than having this “staff report” provide Mr. Friend a forum to repeat the projected monetary benefits projected to be provided to the community, much of which I doubt we’ll ever see over the life of the project, perhaps the “staff” could inquire about the expected benefit to US WindForce and its partners in the form of taxpayer subsidies, grants, deferments, etc., paid for by the people of this state and around the country, which will end up pocket of the developer’s partners over the life of the project. Who knows? Maybe Mr. Friend will commit to an open book policy!
The “staff report” might have challenged this New Page statement it reported, “This partnership is an example of our commitment to support the growth of sustainable energy and is consistent with our goal to continuously explore renewable energy opportunities for our facilities,” especially in light of the fact that “under the terms of the agreements, the University of Maryland and the Maryland Department of General Services will purchase 33 percent and 67 percent respectively of the project’s output.” No reflection on NewPage, but with 100% of the power committed to others it makes me wonder if the New Page partnership is limited to leasing land for the six turbines “which will be located on NewPage property,” simply justifying the formal naming of the project as “Pinnacle Wind Farm at NewPage,” or truly a commitment to explore renewable energy on behalf of the paper maker? I don’t know, and if I limit my reading to only the Mineral Daily, there’s a good chance I never will.
Finally, rather than reading about Mr. Friend’s glee at securing the commitment of the University of Maryland, I might have wondered about the potential impact the Chancellor’s decision to subsidize wind energy may have on student tuition costs over the next 20 years. After all, this free wind energy has proven to be very expensive. Of course, the Chancellor may be oblivious to the cost distribution impact of renewables on taxpayers or, perhaps he recognizes that any savings potentially benefiting his institution will likely be funded by the taxpayers in general and, as a result, he may simply not care. After all, leaders are only evaluated on the financial success of their own institutions and hey, let the other chips fall where they may.
Some time back, I was informed that the Mineral Daily would be happy to publish other materials if someone would only come forward with them. Discounting the impact of letters to the editor, which do not carry the same weight as articles published, especially in light of the Mineral Daily’s stated position that those opposing industrial wind are simply NIMBYS, I suppose, at least from what I’ve read, the only one driving to the office is US WindForce and that is unfortunate. There is an incredible amount of scientific data questioning the value of industrial wind as part of the energy mix for this country. The negative environmental and health impact evidence as a result of industrial wind installation and operation, as well as its dismal performance, is growing, but one would actually have to push the search button on Google.
With citizen groups blossoming across the country and the world to challenge this industry, there is more and more exposure to the ills of industrial wind. Scientific journals are full of opposing views, yet they are invisible to the Mineral Daily because, presumably, no one stopped by.
If it is the goal of the Mineral Daily to insure the obits are in on time, all is well. If the goal is to fully inform its readers of all sides of the argument so they can make an informed decision about a life changing experience, they’ve fallen flat on their “STAFF REPORTS!” But that’s only my opinion.
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