Stand Up To NIMBY - And Create Jobs

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Llewellyn King of

Stand Up to NIMBY - and Create Jobs

In Britain, they call it "DADA." It means Decide. Announce. Defend. Abandon.
In America we call it "NIMBY" - "not in my back yard."
It applies to all kinds of infrastructure construction, from airports to roads. But it is electric and gas utilities that feel the brunt of local opposition.
These localized forces of "no" have caused the buildup of a substantial backlog of infrastructure projects, not only for sexy green-energy technologies but also for the traditional needs of energy production and distribution - pipelines, power lines, replacement of aging equipment and the construction of new facilities to meet new loads and move the energy infrastructure into the 21st century.
It also includes old-fashioned technology - meters, switches, transformers - to get new green electricity to the consumer.
A new study, from a group advocating upgrading energy facilities, says the pent-up need for utilities to start these projects is so great that if the impediments can be dealt with, 250,000 jobs can be created almost immediately, without action from Congress or a raid on the federal treasury.
The group, Build America Now, is headed by a veteran utility consultant Steven Mitnick, who has advised the governor of New York, headed his own electric transmission company, and was a senior strategist in the electric and gas practice of McKinsey & Co., the consulting firm.
According to Mitnick, the backlog buildup in the utility sector could be a bonanza for the Obama administration. He calculates that if the Gulliver of energy projects can be freed from the Lilliputian ties of local regulatory opposition, unemployment would be reduced by two-tenths of 1 percent. Not inconsiderable.
Mitnick told me the beauty of pushing these utility projects is that they would be financed by the utilities and "they really are shovel-ready." Whereas Obama's much-discussed green jobs will one day pay off, Mitnick believes these more traditional jobs - which he calls "backbone" jobs - are in the starter's gate.
The study provides lists of utilities and gas companies and their projects that stretch across the energy field. In essence, Mitnick is saying that there are jobs in energy here and now and that they deserve a political shove, especially at the state level.
Here are some examples:
•In Minnesota, five transmission lines have been proposed, creating 7,800 jobs.
•In New Jersey, Spectra Energy has proposed to build a gas pipeline, creating 700 new jobs.
•In Texas, Panda Energy is building a power plant using natural gas, creating 500 jobs.
•In Colorado, Xcel Energy is retiring some coal-fired plants, installing pollution-control equipment in others and building new natural gas plants, creating 1,254 jobs.
The biggest job growth by far is associated with shale gas in the states of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia: a whopping 165,000 jobs.
When I asked Mitnick why these projects and others have been allowed to back up, he calculated that naysayers, the NIMBY folk, had swarmed state regulators for years, forcing the companies into defensive inaction.
But the midterm elections may have changed all that.
"Governors and state legislators were elected to put job-creation and economic development as priority No. 1," Mitnick said. Therefore, in the new climate, opponents of growth can be reasoned with or sidestepped when jobs are at stake.
"The governors simply need to get the word out to state regulators that the world has changed and regulators need to make job-creation and economic growth part of the equation," Mitnick said.
So it is back to the future, according to Mitnick, who taught economics at Georgetown University early in his career.
"Throughout the 20th century, utilities and energy companies were engines of growth because they could efficiently finance infrastructure growth," he said.
Will an explosion of energy infrastructure jobs push up utility bills? Not much, Mitnick said, because most of an energy bill is for fuel and taxes. Besides, there would be an efficiency premium for the consumer, he added.
The idea here is not that it is green vs. brown, but now vs. later.

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Scottj88's picture

Nothing is going to get better until we End the Federal Reserve.  Massive inflation is here (hidden tax) so even if we want to create jobs, we cannot.  Companies are weary to plan for the future because they don't have faith that prices will stay stable.  There is no recovery and anyone who preaches that there is one is confused or just plain evil.

End The Federal Reserve.

Then we can create real jobs again.

Limit this government.

Ron Paul 2012

Stuck on Zero's picture

Most NIMBY people are lawyers, corrupt environmental organizations, and the consulting companies.  All the above seek to gain cash $$ in their pockets for resisting development.  I have dealt directly with many of them and they are very $$ driven. 

Then again there are the huge and corrupt businesses that wish to trash your landscape and contaminate your kids with toxins.  I've dealt with plenty of these.  Where they could do a job properly and quietly they instead go directly to crooked politicians and obtain exemptions. 

There must be a middle ground in all of this.

MachoMan's picture

What the fuck are you talking about?  This is literally about fundamental rights of the individual.  This is about necessary checks and balances so as to help ensure the tyranny of the majority does not impose its will upon an individual's property.

You talk about it as though people are selfish to want autonomy over what transpires in their back yards...  that they should somehow sacrifice their property, in this case, for jobs for others...  this is patently ridiculous.

Local governments (after notice to the affected parties) have the right to deal with these issues...  as it should be...  I see no reason to change this feature.

PS, the reason why projects are not implemented is because the money doesn't make sense...  The cost of notifying the proper parties and going through the proper legal channels is going to exist whether or not there is opposition and whether or not the petitioner is successful...  I cannot fathom that the marginal costs are so outlandish as to render projects unprofitable (rather, they were unprofitable from the start or are only profitable in different economic conditions).

If you want to get around opposition, then fucking pony up to the cash register and pay people for the harm/changes you are planning to their property...  If the government wants to do it, then they have to give fair compensation...  why should private parties be any different?  This is as fundamental as the constitution... 

That Peak Oil Guy's picture

Yeah, fuck the guy that wrote this article.

You want windmills in your backyard with subsonic vibrations that make you feel like you are crazy?  (Do the research if you don't believe this one.)

You want big towers for electrical power lines running over your roof so you can hear the electricity humming while you are trying to get to sleep at night?

You want nuclear waste disposed of over your water table, never mind the fact that in 10,000 years after our civilization will be long gone our future generations will have no idea what it is and live around it?

You want gas fracking fucking up your water supply with fracking chemicals?

You want dams destroying what little is left of the ocean fish species that brood in freshwater and all the species that depend on them?

Fuck this motherfucker and his anti-NIMBYisms.


hedgeless_horseman's picture

•hedgeless_horseman agrees to hire a man with a chainsaw and ax to show up at the author's home to turn all of the trees in Mr. King's backyard into cordwood, replacing them with saplings, and facilitating a virtuous cycle of renewable energy, creating 1 job for at least a day for two.

Don't be a, "naysayer," Mr. King.  Post your address here, and I wil have a newly employed man in your backyard within a day! Make job-creation and economic growth part of the your neighborhood.

•Next day, my friend Clyde will have a drilling rig and then later a fracking truck at your house that will provide a few more man-days of employment, and if we are lucky, some BTUs too!  You won't mind if they hook up to your water faucet, right?

The idea here is not that it is green vs. brown, but now vs. later.  Post your address, now, and sign over your mineral rights, Mr. King!  Be a leader!

GreenSideUp's picture


But he didn't mean his backyard; he meant all us peons' backyards.  Business as usual.

DOT's picture


Inherent in the nature of men and things.

Those not wanting the openess of due process deserve to be greeted with great prejudice

(like a Mossberg).

New_Meat's picture

MM: yep,

"You talk about it as though people are selfish to want autonomy over what transpires in their back yards...  that they should somehow sacrifice their property, in this case, for jobs for others...  this is patently ridiculous."

I'm intrugued, never heard a NIMBY argument expressed in terms of 'property rights'!

otoh, well, let the grid collapse, then listen to the bitchen'

after all, 'I plugged the computer into the socket, but it won't work!'

I do love the explicit extortion threat, though.

- Ned

MachoMan's picture

Literally, the only argument in any of these cases is property rights...  the issue in eminent domain cases is money because whether or not you get to keep your property has already been decided against you...  the issue in NIMBY cases is largely whether the proposed land usage is inconsistent with present property rights, zonings, safety regulations, etc....  and, if not inconsistent, then does the interest outweigh the rights of the present owners?

The problem big whigs face when trying to stuff environmental conditions upon landowners is that the local zoning boards have to live with the local owners...  (hint, they dont want the shit either and just blame the local owners). 

I'm of the notion that so long as you don't move to the nuisance, and the proposed use would physically interfere with your property, your objection alone should be enough to stop the project...  if your property would not be physically interfered with, but would conceivably only suffer pecuniary loss, then maybe, just maybe, we can have a balancing test of some sort.

The fact is, those pursuing the projects dont want to pay the piper (all the landowners).  They would rather grease some palms at city hall and have the thing slipped through...  well, doesn't work like that.

New_Meat's picture

Thanks for considered answer.

"The fact is, those pursuing the projects dont want to pay the piper (all the landowners)."

I work (on and off, checkered carreer ;-) associated with electrical power generation.  And I'm in the northeast (Commonwealth of MA, but all the same).  We see nonsense [ed. wrt eminent domain]  (New Haven case e.g.) but more importantly the fiduciary responsibility of the e.g. ISO and T&D folks vs. the NIMBY opposition.

Buddy, it has been cold around here.  If we lose electricity (as has happened before, see e.g.

well, we're all hosed.  I can't imagine the caterwauling when Rahm takes over Chicago and Commonwealth (... er ... Exelon) can't provide power.  cf. Texas before the 'big game' for a prototype.

So the lawyers would have a 'class' to get their suit lined up on.  I'm thinking general public harm with this bad planning.

but no worries--it only takes like 8-10 years to get a central station up and running.

Thanks again, good info.

- Ned

MachoMan's picture

I also do work for a few electrical utilities.  You might say I'm an equal opportunist in regard to this issue...  but, the biggest difference with the utility companies is that they have the power (at least in this state) of eminent domain.  There is no discussion of what takes place in the owner's backyard...  this issue has already been decided against him.  The only issue we have to dicker with is the price of the taking.  Further, we can even gain possession/use (mostly easements, but sometimes outright taking) immediately upon filing by posting a bond into the court's registry equal to the appraised value of the taking.  The landowner can also immediately take this bond and put it to his defense costs or whatever else he wants.

Our process is vastly dissimilar to the state...  we actually negotiate with the affected parties and try and work out as amicable solution as possible.  Further, our appraisers are real, genuine appraisers, who are not told to lowball the shit out of the people...  I assume that given who is paying the appraiser, the numbers have a slightly downward bias, but not the outright lies presented by others I see...  It is in our client's best interest to not have to pay us to dilly dally or haggle in perpetuity...  we need to get a settlement reached quickly, and as congenially as possible.

In other words, NIMBY cases are vastly dissimilar to eminent domain cases because the state has already determined which projects are worthy of the power of the long cock of the state (e.g. utility companies that are given state monopolies, although interestly non-profit organizations)...  NIMBY cases are up for debate from the get go and, generally speaking, affect numerous persons rather than a single parcel.  The parties attempting to get approval generally are for-profit and in competitive fields...  as a result, the relative equities and public considerations are different... In short, NIMBY cases are for those situations where eminent domain is inappropriate given the "necessity" of the taking may not be sufficient or the person/entity attempting to implement a project is doing so for its own pecuniary gain.

JW n FL's picture

Here are some examples:
•In Minnesota, five transmission lines have been proposed, creating 7,800 jobs.
•In New Jersey, Spectra Energy has proposed to build a gas pipeline, creating 700 new jobs.
•In Texas, Panda Energy is building a power plant using natural gas, creating 500 jobs.
•In Colorado, Xcel Energy is retiring some coal-fired plants, installing pollution-control equipment in others and building new natural gas plants, creating 1,254 jobs.
The biggest job growth by far is associated with shale gas in the states of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia: a whopping 165,000 jobs.

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture




velobabe's picture

lazy white people that can only push paper. W E A K>>>>>>

Cash_is_Trash's picture

turn off caps biiiaaaaatcccchhhh

hardcleareye's picture

Caps are considered shouting, could you please remember you're on a blog site, not a court room. 

Misstrial's picture

NIMBYism is one of the outcomes of the "Me" thinking that took hold of America beginning in the 1970's.

Not at all concerned with what would benefit the community or region, its all about what would interfere with "my view".

As a general rule, in California, many homeowners embraced NIMBYism since they profited from much higher home prices (thus making housing unaffordable for working people - San Luis Obispo county is a good example) due to various land-use restrictions that they approved usually through ballot measures and election of land-use restrictive politicians.

And its not just offshore drilling whose royalties would bring California and Florida out of their depressions. Its wind farms ("messes with my view"), solar farms (I don't loking at them - so ugly"), ocean current-energy capture wheels ("I like looking out at the ocean without that thing") among other technologies including hospitals (San Bernardino county).




New_Meat's picture

anyone who says he remembers the '70s, well, wasn't really there ;-)

Misstrial's picture

Don't need to be, unfortunately maybe for *you* there are videos galore in addition to text on the topic.


MachoMan's picture

I think NIMBYism developed out of an inherent desire for autonomy and to have your possessions protected from theft and usurpation.  This desire, right, etc., was simply codified...

Further, the fact that a single person alone wishes to stand against a project is often times wholly insufficient...  in other words, we cannot simplify the situation with a lone person standing in front of the bulldozer...  this is not how it works (his ass gets thrown in jail).  If a proposed project gets defeated at the municipal level, it should be defeated, and this judgment was likely upon numerous considerations and a general public outcry.  Those seeking to implement projects have to understand their place in our system of government...

papaswamp's picture

Amazingly money for these projects will suddenly materialize out of The Bernake's 4th point of contact. 

buzzsaw99's picture

Whatever. Ask Texas about how great unreliable overpriced deregulated electricty is. Fuck the utilities.

Augustus's picture

The increased utility costs in Texas are a direct result of the NIMBY policies described in the article.  When there was the Texas Utilities buyout, the NIMBYs held it up until the utility agreed to scrap plans for coal fired plants.  They knew that there would be increased demand, it is just that the NIMBYs would not allow anything to be built to supply the power.

Next scheme was to force them to go for wind and solar sources.  Guess what, that stuff is costly and not reliable.  Then the wind whackers can simply not deliver the agreed power they have contracted to deliver, requiring the utility to purchase backup power.  The plants supplying the backup power have to be paid for whether they are being used 24/7 or not.  And then there is the power line issue.  Ask Pickens about how easy it is to get some approvals to transmit the power from the windy generating area to the consumer.  NIMBYs won't allow it to happen.

So, yeah, look at the Texas situation and expect it to be your situation in a year or so.  You will simply love living with a Haitian level of power useage as Obama and Chu have promised with their 80 by 50 plan.  They believe in fairy tales.

Azannoth's picture

Energy Secretary Promises “Massive” Coal Plant Closures

"Americans will be made to foot the bill as part of Obama’s publicly stated agenda to bankrupt the coal industry in the move towards a “green economy.”

Hulk's picture

They really do intend to destroy the country...

MJ's picture

When that growth happens to run through my property and I don't like the offer prepare for me to call bullshit on eminent domain.

MachoMan's picture

Do not take the first offer.  Lawyer up, pay them by the hour, and go to a jury trial.  Dress appropriately, testify honestly and sincerely, and collect your due.

In these parts, the state will lowball the shit out of you hoping you are an indigent, old person, incompetent, or otherwise just stupid enough to take their offer...  (doesn't hurt to ask right?).  Every once and a blue moon, there will be a reasonable offer for a piece of property... 

but, if your property has any remote value, then it will likely be worth litigating...  further, you'll get AT LEAST the amount of the state's offer...  so, might as well roll them bulls with the jury...  I can assure you that the state's appraiser will not likely stand up to cross examination and your appraiser... they cost quite a bit to litigate, but you'll likely end up net ahead (if not, your attorney likely shouldn't have taken the representation).

weinerdog43's picture

"...they cost quite a bit to litigate..."  And there's the rub.  You're taking on a full time attorney who does this all day.  Expect to spend $30,000-$50,000.  Ouch.

MachoMan's picture

Depends...  bills of $15k+ are normal...  but we have done a lot of them, so we know who all the players are, who the state's experts are going to be, etc.  I could see where costs could double under different circumstances.

We also will do contingency...  generally speaking, the state's offer is so low, that even if the jury splits the baby, we would make more money via contingency than hourly.  They're gutlock cases...  liability is established...  we only need to determine the price.

Most all the cases are the same...  you have the landowner testify...  the appraisers testify...  and there isn't much else...  sometimes experts on water issues or ancillary construction issues...  but, generally not too incredibly involved.  Quite a bit of prep time and certainly a lot of time with the appraiser...  gotta find one that can testify worth a shit. 

The most important aspect is having a landowner that the jury can relate to and likes... 

weinerdog43's picture

Very good points.  I agree.  Perhaps if your state allows for a DTPA count, the client can really twist the knife. 

If you guys have a practice niche here, my hat's off.  Kudus sir!

velobabe's picture

well, i don't trust any fucking thing coming out of Xcel Energy mouth, in Colorado. this place is full of dumb shit white people. they just let it B U R N

buzzsaw99's picture

Oh yeah, criminals every last one of them.

minus dog's picture

Fuck it.

Let projects fail.

Let the grid collapse.

I'll make sure to stop by and piss on their graves... of course, at that point you'd hardly be able to miss them.

We have a critical shortage of adults doing real work.

barnaby33's picture

Yes anything which creates jobs must be allowed to happen! Whether its opening a tanning vat in some small residential neighborhood in Amarillo, or a power transmission line through rural east county San Diego. Oh wait, shit, I don't want that one, I live in San Diego. Besides behind the jobs ruse is just an excuse for SDGE to sell dirty cheap power generated in Mexico under the guise of green. Oh that and its going to destroy the two best most accessible paragliding sites near my home. I'm ok with the tanning vats though, thats in Amarillo.


I guess NIMBY might serve something useful. Otherwise nobody would care about anything and then what a wonderful economy we would have.


co2010's picture

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Big Ben's picture

In my area, they installed new electronic power and gas meters which I believe are intended to allow them to eliminate or reduce gas and electricity meter reader workers. There has been no real benefit to customers and in fact some people have complained that transmissions from the meters interfere with radios and televisions. Also, there was a rate increase at about the same time which I think is intended to pay for the new meters. So the costs are forced onto the consumers and the savings are kept by the utility company. What a deal! And people wonder why people are against new technology.

Fred Hayek's picture

NIMBY is old hat.  We're way past that acronym.  We're on to BANANA.  Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

A lot of people want to have *some* of the effects of a functioning economy but want to pretend that others can be completely avoided. 

And, to answer an earlier poster, no you don't have a right to control what happens on other people's land.  That's the nature of private property.  In most places in the U.S., whether something can or cannot be done is determined by zoning.  We could have a whole separate argument about the wisdom of zoning regulations but that's another debate.  They're here.  We have to deal with them.  And if zoning allows somebody to build X on the land adjacent to you, then, no you do not get to determine whether or not X should be build next to you.  You should probably have looked into the zoning of the land when you bought your property.  These things aren't kept secret.


Dan The Man's picture


the people still have to be heard...sorry.  you'll just have to wait.

Tic tock's picture

Couldn't you just replace the transmission cables with the new highly-efficient wires - I mean, just upgrade the existing infrastructure?