Op-Ed: End the Pejorative Use of 'NIMBY'

Harvard University professor Naomi Oreskes writes a defense of NIMBYism, asking that we rethink he use of the term by considering the community-protecting motives of many NIMBYs.

1 minute read

October 25, 2014, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Idiot brigade

protohiro / Flickr

"Communities and individuals who oppose fracking, nuclear power, high-voltage power lines, and diverse other forms of development have all been accused of NIMBYism," writes Naomi Oreskes, "It’s time to rethink this term."

Oreskes cites the example of the recent controversy over Northern Pass, a plan to bring hydroelectric power from Quebec to southern New England: "By dismissing opponents as NIMBYists, proponents of Northern Pass and other projects shut down conversations that we should be having about the things we value, including quiet, safety, security, and peace of mind."

Shutting down discussion like that, says Oreskes, raises troubling questions about democracy: "Who gets to decide? Who has the burden of proof? And how should citizens be compensated if a collective decision to drill, frack or burn has apparently injured them, but it can’t be proved because no one did the baseline studies that should have been done but weren’t?"

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