Coal Tattoo

NY Times on ‘Wind vs. Coal’

In case you missed it, Sunday’s New York Times had a lengthy piece about the “Wind vs. Coal” battle going on along West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, where environmental groups are promoting alternative energy over mountaintop removal coal mining.

The story is here, and there’s also some nice graphics, video and photos. The story is part of a series called Beyond Fossil Fuels, which the Times said will “examine innovative attempts to reduce the world’s dependence on coal, oil and other carbon-intensive fuels, and the challenges faced.”

Here’s the “nut-graph” from the Times story:

Critics say the practice, known as “mountaintop removal mining,” is as devastating to the local environment as it is economically efficient for coal companies, one of which is poised to begin carving up Coal River Mountain. And that has Ms. Scarbro and other residents of western Raleigh County in a face-off of their own.

Their goal is to save the mountain, and they intend to do so with a wind farm. At least one study has shown that a wind project could be a feasible alternative to coal mining here, although the coal industry’s control over the land and the uncertain and often tenuous financial prospects of wind generation appear to make it unlikely to be pursued. That, residents say, would be a mistake.

The story is a nice overview of the issue, but for my money, reporter Tom Zeller Jr. could have done without the cockfighting reference in the lead. But the national media just can’t pass up a chance to throw in that kind of stuff in a West Virginia story.

Also, the story paints the subject of controversies over wind power with a bit of a broad brush, and I don’t think really made it clear the similarities between poor government planning and regulation of both wind and coal are at the root of these controversies.

Previous coverage of the Coal River Wind Project is available here and here, and we’ve also had other Coal Tattoo posts about this topic here, here and here.