Special Sections : Wind Energy

Wednesday, Jun 15 2011 09:18 AM

Now & Then -- Things that get in the wind

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Claudia Elliott

You may have watched the game show Jeopardy, where a series of answers are listed and the contestants have to come up with the correct question to win.

I had that in mind when I wrote the headline for this week’s column — things that get in the wind: Leaves, dust, tumbleweeds... gossip.

Late last week someone posted a comment to an article about wind power on the Tehachapi News website, noting that an "insider" informed him “that he thought the reason that Tehachapi News has been so neutral  on this issue is because they are a division of the Bakersfield Sun who has some kind of  ‘deal’ going with the principals involved in this horrible project.”

I am always amazed that people are so willing to pass on gossip without making any effort to determine its validity.

Aside from the factual issues involved (I believe there was a newspaper in Bakersfield called the Sun, but we had no relationship with it; we are affiliated with the Bakersfield Californian), the comment gave me an opportunity to consider our role.

As editor, I don't think our job is to be anything but neutral. We're in the business of journalism, not activism.

We do, however, provide a forum for activists and welcome letters to the editor and guest commentary. Being published in the newspaper does require one to remain civil, avoid libel and sign real names.

The News will continue to cover the wind industry and other facets of our community and we’ll do our best to provide our readers with advance notice of opportunities to participate in the public process, as well as the facts.

If you want juicy gossip and idle speculation, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

About those wind projects

I have already shared my belief that so-called "green energy" is not so green when you're living next to it and think that the county needs to listen to the people of Tehachapi very closely as wind and solar projects are reviewed.

The stories we've already published do a pretty good job of spelling out the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the process the county must take to evaluate these projects. In the case of both the Sand Canyon proposal and Pahnamid, all that has happened so far is what is called "scoping." Citizens and various governmental agencies (ranging from the Federal Aviation Administration to the California Dept. of Fish and Game, among others) have made comments and this will shape the direction of the required Environmental Impact Review documents.

If I've lost some of you with this, please hang in there. This is what the law requires and citizens who want to have an impact have to learn the rules of the game and get on board.

I’m told that both sides have engaged in name-calling. Land use issues, like water issues, do pit competing interests against each other.

Certainly the proponents of Pahnamid and the Sand Canyon projects know that there is community opposition.

Like it or not, there is a process to be followed and opponents who are looking for a quick about-face on these projects are likely to be disappointed.

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Send email to: celliott@tehachapinews.com or call 823-6360.

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