Kansas Wildlife Federation

Wednesday, November 24 2004

LJ World slants wind power news

I don’t mind media bias, really, I just don’t like media outlets that pretend to be objective while pursuing an agenda, or outlets that misrepresent the actual facts.

A great case in point is the Lawrence Journal World’s recent story, “Plan would limit wind energy farms.” The misrepresentations start in the very first paragraph, as the story leads off with:

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday put a prime area of potential wind energy off-limits to near-term development, citing a need to protect the scenic Flint Hills.

Compare that with the lead from the Wichita Eagle’s story, “State hopes to link wind farm regulation”:

About a third of the Flint Hills should remain free of wind turbines until further guidelines for their development emerge at the both the state and local levels, a state panel has recommended.

There’s a lot more to the LJ World story, and a lot more to what’s actually going on. To read it, click here for more.

Here’s what the Wichita Eagle says:

The proposed “Heart of the Flint Hills Area” covers about 2 million acres and portions of 11 counties, including the cities of El Dorado, Emporia, Manhattan and Junction City. A team appointed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius asked property owners and wind developers to exercise “voluntary restraint” inside the area until additional guidelines for wind development are written.

The LJ World, by contrast, plays up a picture of a dictatorial move:

Wind energy supporters said Sebelius’ move could kill environmentally sound projects and have a devastating effect on struggling rural areas that have been banking on potential leasing dollars from the wind farms.

The worst part about the LJ World’s story is not just the disservice that it does to wind power opponents - as often happens, our concerns are dismissed as being about the “scenery” - but that it fundamentally relays a wrong picture of what happened with the Governor’s mapping project. Here’s an example:

Mapping ignored

Donna Johnson, owner of Lawrence’s Pinnacle Technology and a member of the advisory Kansas Energy Council, said she was surprised by Sebelius’ statement, especially because the council is scheduled to meet today to approve recommendations on wind energy for the governor.

If you actually look at the maps of what’s being tagged as the conservation area, you’ll see that there is a great deal of intact prairie left out, but also a great deal of what remains as the core of the region being put in. For anyone to be surprised by this outcome, or to say that the mapping is ignored, isn’t looking at the maps the Governor’s team has put out.

To take a look at the proposed “Heart of the Flint Hills” area, go to the Kansas Energy Council website. Be careful which link you click - I picked a 17 megabyte pdf file and my machine was frozen for five minutes.

+ Dan @ 09:54am

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