Emails show state’s ongoing effort to spin coverage
By Christine McConville
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The state’s top environmental official scrambled to manipulate the media during the critical days of the embattled Cape Wind project, alternately bullying, cajoling and sweet-talking top reporters and editors here and in New York, a Herald review of internal emails reveals.
Those emails take you inside Gov. Deval Patrick’s spin machine and illustrate the administration’s desperate scramble to make Cape Wind the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
The missives — unsealed by project opponents under a public records request and obtained by the Herald — emerge as the Patrick administration and Obama officials come under fire for putting their eco-agenda first over public safety concerns.
• In a June 2010 email, former state energy secretary Ian Bowles slams The Boston Globe for reporting on feared higher energy bills — as the Herald had been pointing out for months: “It is outrageous that the Globe has to come to this,” Bowles writes to a Globe editor, after the broadsheet reported that a contract between Cape Wind and National Grid would lead to higher electrical bills.
• Bowles hits harder later: “The trajectory of the Globe’s coverage of this contract has gone from highly accurate, context-providing and specific to the point today where you followed the Herald’s very misleading hyperventilation about ‘double the price.’?By the way, the Herald’s spiteful reaction has been in no small part due to the scoop we gave the Globe ... to have the Globe now adopting that same editorial posture as the Herald is very disappointing.”
• In October 2009, a Bowles spokesman announced that The New York Times [NYT] was publishing another pro-Cape Wind editorial: “(The Times) is writing an editorial encouraging (Secretary of Interior Kenneth) Salazar to move the Cape Wind project forward, rather than perform a lengthy review of the Wampanoags’ petition to name the entire Nantucket Sounds (sic) as a traditional cultural property. Cape Wind is the only offshore wind project that is likely to get built during President Obama’s first term. Secy. Bowles also stressed that Gov. Patrick is the first state official to support Cape Wind, and he is pursuing an ambitious clean energy agenda that maps President Obama’s.”
Days later, a Times editorial echoed those thoughts.
Salazar approved the 130-turbine Cape Wind project in 2010, but the farm remains stalled by legal challenges.
Project critics want the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard to take another look at the private, for-profit project, which will span 24 square miles in Nantucket Sound.
Yesterday, Bowles, who left his state job to start his own clean-energy firm, defended the email exchange.
“I had concerns about the accuracy of the Globe’s reporting on the impacts on customers,” he told the Herald. “The points I made were accurate and valid, and I stand by them today.”