Tuesday, July 20, 2004

NIMBY Redux 

It wasn't long ago that California suffered a major electricity crisis.  The state ran short of power because it could not import any from areas that needed it for themselves.  The state vowed it would build more power plants and power lines to make sure the shortage would never happen again.
I picked up a story a day or two ago that shows "NOT-IN-MY-BACKYARD" is alive and well in California.  In spite of all the public relations, government regulation and persuasion, homeowners still don't want power lines near them. 
The complaint is bogus as far as science is concerned.  It is a claim that one can get sick from living in magnetic fields near power lines.  Homeowners are protesting a 230,000-volt line to be built near San Francisco.  But that is not all.  Homeowners on all routes for new power lines in Northern and Southern California are protesting angrily.  "Put them anywhere, but not near me."  The problem is that there aren't many other places to put them economically.
There is no public relations solution for this kind of fear and parochialism.  Appealing to greater good is lost completely on someone who has a power line soaring feet from his or her property.  The state has to do what it did.  It approved the lines over protest. 
There are limits to all communications.  Sometimes you have to act.


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