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NIMBYism revisited: public acceptance of wind energy in the United States



The acronym NIMBY, known to stand for ‘Not-In-My-Back-Yard’, generally describes resistance to siting specific projects close to one's area of residence while exhibiting acceptance of similar projects elsewhere. As wind energy continues to be recognized as a successful technology for meeting renewable energy targets and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, the siting of wind turbines is a growing challenge that policy makers, facility planners, and wind developers face. The most often cited motivations for public support and opposition are reviewed here with a focus on wind energy developments in the United States. The purpose is to present the existing state of research on community responses to wind energy and to answer the following questions: What motivates support and opposition to facility siting, and in particular to wind energy facilities? Does the literature provide substantial evidence that NIMBYism is the determining motivation for opposition in the United States and, by extension, does the term's widespread use help to explain opposition? What mechanisms have been proposed for ‘overcoming’ NIMBYism, if it is present? This paper, following the recommendations of other social scientists, provides a collective call for a significant course shift: rather than proposing strategies to ‘overcome’ opposition, research should focus on proposing how to make siting successful. Drawing on a review of the relevant literature, the ‘ENUF’ framework—which stands for ‘Engage, Never use NIMBY, Understand, and Facilitate’—is introduced as a step in that direction. WIREs Clim Change 2013, 4:575–601. doi: 10.1002/wcc.250

Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.

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