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NIMBY as the moral high ground

There's a common story in environmental politics that goes like this: Some locally unwanted land use (LULU), such as a trash incinerator or factory, is proposed for some location. The neighbors object. The proponents of the LULU charge that the neighbors are just NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) -- they're fine with the facility in the abstract, but they selfishly want to foist it off on some other neighborhood. In order to reclaim the moral high ground and rebut the idea that they just want to stick the LULU elsewhere, the neighbors reply that their view is actually NIABY (Not In Anyone's Back Yard, which on an expansive definition of "backyard" amounts to NOPE (Not On Planet Earth)) -- they think society can do without the LULU, at least in its current objectionable form.

Here in Casa Grande, we have a proposal to put a metal shredder that would grind up old cars and so forth in a light industrial park. The neighbors are upset, and have written numerous letters to the editor of my employer, the Dispatch (which unfortunately do not appear to be on its website). What I find interesting is that several of them reverse the usual NIMBY dynamic. They insist that they support recycling in general and metal shredders in particular, but they just don't think it's right to put such a facility here in Casa Grande. In other words, 'Don't accuse me of NIABY! I'm NIMBY!" (Granted, it's not a perfect reversal, since these writers would probably not approve of a shredder in a similar light industrial park elsewhere -- they want it located far from other houses and businesses.)


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