Last week Harvard history professor Naomi Oreskes defended the public figure that many planners love to hate: the NIMBY. In a column in the Washington Post entitled, "Stop hating on NIMBYs. They're saving communities," she argues that "NIMBY" does not deserve the pejorative connotation that many in the planning community naturally ascribe to it. She focuses on an example from New Hampshire, where communities have raised opposition to a high-voltage transmission wire from a hydroelectric plant in Quebec.
Who would be against power lines, she wonders? Anyone who values, "quiet, safety, security, and peace of mind." The beauty of the New Hampshire landscape, and all the therapeutic benefits that come from it, justifies opposition to the power lines. Her argument is as convincing as it is obvious.
Even so, Oreskes writes that opponents have been "dismissed" by the project's supporters. The puzzling thing about her argument is that she writes that "communities and individuals [including, presumably, herself] who oppose fracking, nuclear power, high voltage power lines, and diverse other forms of development have all been accused of NIMBYism." Accused by whom? I know of few Americans who would welcome a nuclear power plant anywhere near their backyards, and for good reason.