Planet Gore

Windmills vs. Pipelines in the Times

The Gray Lady is gung-ho for renewable projects. Doable projects? Not so much.
A few weeks ago, New York mayor Mike Bloomberg announced, quite suddenly and out of left field, that he was going to ask for proposals to put windmills on top of NYC’s buildings and bridges. The New York Times covered it – despite the many flaws in the plan that should have been obvious to any reporter – in the most positive way possible. An excerpt:

The plan, while still in its early stages, appears to be the boldest environmental proposal to date from the mayor, who has made energy efficiency a cornerstone of his administration.
Mr. Bloomberg said he would ask private companies and investors to study how windmills can be built across the city, with the aim of weaning it off the nation’s overtaxed power grid, which has produced several crippling blackouts in New York over the last decade.
Mr. Bloomberg did not specify which skyscrapers and bridges would be candidates for windmills, and city officials would need to work with property owners to identify the buildings that would best be able to hold the equipment.
But aides said that for offshore locations, the city was eyeing the generally windy coast off Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island for turbines that could generate 10 percent of the city’s electricity needs within 10 years.
“When it comes to producing clean power, we’re determined to make New York the No. 1 city in the nation,” Mr. Bloomberg said as he outlined his plans in a speech Tuesday night in Las Vegas, where a major conference on alternative energy is under way.
He later evoked the image of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, saying he imagined it one day “powered by an ocean wind farm.”
But the mayor’s proposal for wind power faces several serious obstacles: People are likely to oppose technologies that alter the appearance of their neighborhoods; wind-harnessing technology can be exceedingly expensive; and Mr. Bloomberg has less than 18 months left in office to put a plan into place.

Those are serious obstacles, alright. The environmental approvals are major challenges — but the engineering challenges are nearly insuperable.
Now look at how the Times covers Gov. Palin’s pipeline news:

ANCHORAGE — When Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska took center stage at the Republican convention last week, she sought to burnish her executive credentials by telling how she had engineered the deal that jump-started a long-delayed gas pipeline project.
Stretching more than 1,700 miles, it would deliver natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska to the lower 48 states and be the largest private-sector infrastructure project on the continent.
“And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence,” said Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee. “That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.”
The reality, however, is far more ambiguous than the impression Ms. Palin has left at the convention and on the campaign trail.
The pipeline exists only on paper.

Mayor Bloomberg had to back off his plan within hours of announcing it because it isn’t feasible, something the Times should have smacked him around on. That plan, which the Times gave the rah-rah treatment, never even existed on paper before it was scrapped.

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