Are Dirty Energy Opponents NIMBY?
Proving Industry Wrong
(April 2014 - Vol. 5, issue 1)
Are Dirty Energy Opponents NIMBY?
- by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor
It’s typical for energy developers facing community resistance to proposed facilities to try to discredit opponents
by calling them NIMBY (Not in My Backyard), steering the argument away
from health and environmental impacts to simply one of aesthetics.
Corporate profiteers argue that local opposition doesn’t have a problem
with a given energy technology itself — so long as they don’t have to
look at it.
how far are dirty energy opportunists off base when they toss the NIMBY
label around in an attempt to sway public opinion and influence
government policy in regards to their pollution factories?
Public Strategy Group’s focus is to give its corporate clients—
including nuclear, bioenergy and natural gas corporations, along with
offshore investment companies and Wal-Mart — “strategic advantage over
their opponents in the public” and government by “countering community
Company President Al Maiorino claims that
“opponents may favor clean energy, however they don’t want it located
anywhere they can see it.” Industry’s main talking point is that members
of the public don’t actually have a problem with the concept of a
biomass incinerator or natural gas-fired facility, simply its location.
Incinerators have such a stigma associated with them that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of NIMBY
actually includes a specific mention, as “opposition to the locating of
something considered undesirable (as a prison or incinerator) in one's
neighborhood.” A community is only NIMBY if it fights the siting
of a facility without articulating a complete rejection of that form of
In the case of mountain top coal removal, we frequently see public blowback at the site of extraction in Appalachia, along the thousands of miles of transportation routes across the country, and at the coal-fired power facilities themselves.
This far-reaching opposition, from the source to the burners, has also
recently popped up in regards to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for natural gas. The end result is that the fossil fuel industry faces conflict wherever it turns.
often than not, with some notable exceptions, the anti-fossil fuels
movement tends to defy industry’s NIMBY slur by giving a thumbs down to
the use of that dirty energy source entirely, no matter where it’s
Think Locally, Act Locally?
fossil fuel opponents typically employ a local, regional, and national
strategy, the majority of resistance to biomass energy occurs at the
facility level only — due, in part, to communities simply having a
limited amount of time and resources to expend.
on many occasions, communities fighting a proposed biomass incinerator
have made the case that “biomass isn’t right” for their town —
implicitly (and in some cases, explicitly) suggesting that another area
would be better suited for the facility. In some cases, communities have
successfully chased an incinerator developer out of town, only to have
them set up shop in a poorer community a few dozen miles down the road,
bringing up environmental justice concerns.
So, what makes the biomass fight different from, say, other types of dirty energy resistance?... READ MORE
Vermont: The Little State that Could?
- by Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch
I am fortunate to live in the tiny state of Vermont, a state that has
boldly led the way on so many issues it's hard to list them all. We were
the first to pass same-sex marriage and to take serious steps to make
health care accessible to all. We outlawed billboards altogether and
passed Act 250, a sophisticated mechanism for protecting the landscape
against wanton development. That, in fact, led Vermont to be the last
state in the nation to be colonized by Walmart. We were also the first
state to ban fracking. We fought Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission long and hard demanding they shut down the dangerously
rickety Yankee Nuclear power plant. Recently, at long last and against
all odds, we "won" a semi-victory on that front.
Vermont has taken another bold step: denying permission for development
of a dirty biomass burning facility, deceptively referred to as the
North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project.
facility would have burned 450,000 tons of wood annually, harvested
from the "Green Mountain" state's just barely recovering forests. The
state's Public Service Board is required to review big development
proposals and issue (or deny) a "certificate of public good" (CPG) in
order to proceed with the project. In this case, the decision was that
the facility was not a public good. Many biomass facilities around the
country and the world have not won permits, or have been abandoned en
route to development due to economic concerns. But Vermont may be the
first to deny a permit on the basis of sound reasoning... READ MORE
Maryland Dumps Incineration
- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network
VICTORY!! For a second year in a row, pro-incinerator legislation
in Maryland was defeated. This stealthy legislation was written by
Covanta (the nation's largest trash incineration company) and would put
Maryland on the path to burning nearly all of the waste that isn't
legislation takes the Renewable Portfolio Standard concept (which
mandates a phase-in of renewable energy) and applies it to municipal
solid waste (trash). Without even mentioning incineration, this
"Recycling and Landfill Diversion Portfolio Standard" would move the
state toward increased recycling, but require that the remainder be
diverted from direct dumping in landfills. Rather than move away
from both landfills and incinerators, the bill would create the market
for burning nearly all of the non-recycled waste in the state, before
dumping the ash in landfills. This fits with efforts by many
corporations and cities to hijack the concept of "zero waste" to make it
mean "zero waste to landfill"— pushing incineration and pretending that
the ash isn't then dumped in landfills.
2011, Maryland was the first state to bump trash incineration into Tier
I of their Renewable Portfolio Standard, putting it in competition with
wind power. This awful idea, pioneered in Maryland, is now being
pushed in several other states. Please look out in your state for
these covert attempts to promote incineration in the guise of recycling
and "landfill diversion."
This bill in Maryland passed the Maryland House, but was stopped in the
Senate when their Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee
voted unanimously (11 to zero) to reject the bill. See www.energyjustice.net/md/ for more information on this and other pro-incineration bills we worked to stop (all of which are dead for this year)... READ MORE