Monday, March 26, 2007


That acronym often comes up in discussions of energy and the environment. It stands for:
Not In My Back Yard
A classic example of this is the case of Barbara Streisand fencing off a portion of a public beach behind her house. Apparently she likes public property, just Not In My Back Yard.
This acronym is coming up quite often with regards to energy lately. McLennan County residents are screaming NIMBY regarding coal fire plants, many advocates of wind power are all for the giant windmills, just NIMBY, and I saw a story a few days ago about how some communities are screaming NIMBY to ethanol plants due to heavy truck traffic and other industrial characteristics. (I believe that story was from the Wall Street Journal, but I can't remember.)
First of all, energy has to come from somewhere. There is going to be a plant or generator somewhere in somebody's backyard. So anyone who comments on high energy prices needs to think twice before saying NIMBY to new power sources! Secondly, you have a natural right to property, but you do not have a natural right to control how others use their property. So if person B decides to build a power plant on land that's next to land owned by person A, person A is naturally entitled to compensation from B if the plant damages A's property (pollution, smoke, perhaps even noise and these costs could cause B to not build the plant), but A cannot morally force B not to build his power plant. (A may have a legislative right to stop B from building a plant, but I'm talking about natural, not legislative rights).
(Here's a couple of links for stuff on natural rights and property:
There are many more articles and books on these topics, espcially at
So if property rights are enforced and legislatures do not trump natural rights, NIMBY begins to lose its force.

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