Monday, August 4, 2008

Recent news about energy policies with direct implications for rural America

Dan Barry writes in his "This Land" series in today's New York Times about wind turbines in rural Nebraska. Characteristic of Barry's writing, the story features lots of local detail and color, and it is accompanied by a wonderful photo by Angel Franco. Another photo is of a couple of the half dozen "renewable energy technicians" (a/k/a local Nebraskans with training) who maintain the 230-feet-high turbines. Thirty-six of them near Ainsworth, population 1,862, have provided sufficient power for 19,000 homes over the past few years. They are also providing at least a handful of good jobs, and it sounds like more are on the way, with a number of Nebraska communities actively vying to host the wind farms.

Other stories in the past few days have suggested rather less positive consequences of energy exploration for the rural West. The Saturday headline was "Energy Boom in West Threatens Indian Artifacts." On Sunday, it was "A Push to Wrest More Oil from the Land, but New Wells are for Natural Gas." These stories discuss the impact of the exploration for both archeological artifacts and the environment. In so doing, they make the wind turbines look more appealing than ever, for a range of reasons.

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