As electric utilities move ever closer to all-out competition, senior executives are streamlining their organizations, reducing spending, and developing strategic plans to ensure their company's...
I appreciated Michael Gerrard's August piece, "Dodging the NIMBY Bullet: A Solution to Waste Facility Siting" (Perspective, p. 18). Waste facility siting is a subject that I consider a significant problem facing every U.S. citizen. Clearly, source reduction and recycling of waste should be and often is given priority over the construction of new disposal capacity. But at some point all local communities must come to grips with waste disposal.
Federal designation of regional compacts for low-level radioactive waste facility siting, and the state's capacity assurance planning for hazardous waste facility siting have been established, in part, to make it easier for local communities to handle their own waste. But these programs have failed to encourage communities to take responsibility. It would seem that the "NIMBY Bullet" is alive and well and always loaded for discharge. And if you think you've found a solution to dodging the bullet, try and find a solution to NOPE (em "Not On Planet Earth," or NIMEY (em "Not In My Election Year." Local opposition will also ensue.
The author's centralized approach (em using the federal government to "decide how much disposal capacity and how many facilities are really needed ... and which states would have responsibility for what facilities" (em may simply alienate citizens and add to the paralysis. Rigid decisionmaking based only on physical siting constraints, such as hydrologic criteria and geologic characteristics, may not prove sufficient to overcome community opposition. While this approach might work for some facilities at certain locations, I do not believe that one single process to regulate the siting of all waste streams will ever be effective.
As local communities and their waste products become more diverse, so must the approaches to facility siting. These approaches must be flexible and tailored to fit both the community and the facility. This strategy may involve federal direction, use of technical criteria, assistance grants, solicitation of volunteers, and improved methods for community input, but the degree of success will depend upon how well the solution is tailored to the community and the proposed facility.
Joel M. Rinebold
Connecticut Siting Council
Note: In editing the article by Michael B. Gerrard, "Dodging the NIMBY Bullet: A Solution to Waste Facility Siting," we omitted to note that he is general editor of the six-volume Environmental Law Practice Guide (Matthew Bender 1992), and author of Whose Backyard, Whose Risk: Fear and Fairness in Toxic and Nuclear Waste Siting (MIT Press 1994).
Our September 1, 1995, issue contained a listing of the top 50 pay packages among electric executives (Off Peak, p. 54). The telephone number we cited for our source (OPRI) is incorrect, however. Those who wish to contact OPRI should dial 303/545-5459. t
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