Confronting Climate Change…and NIMBY

This week, as we continue our conversation about powering past NIMBY, the focus turns to deploying third voices and bolstering your credibility by making the conversation about more than profit. Sure, you are in the renewable energy BUSINESS, and you should NEVER try to give the impression that your project is somehow more about the environment than it is about energy. But, it can be about energy and the environment.

You make that case by building a conversation around climate change, its impacts, and how your project – and this community can play a role. If you want to conduct that conversation credibly, you need ::continue:: allies and assets.

David Orr’s new book Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse should be among those assets you deploy. There is a great tradition in business of leaders latching on to a particular book’s message for their organization. More than once, I have opened an interoffice envelope to find a book inscribed with a note from the CEO or an SVP, telling me how the philosophy in a particular book defined an organizing principle of the organization. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. It works on some employees and not on others.

But, it is the kind of leadership technique that you can adapt to your community engagement program. And, if you do, Down to the Wire should be on your book list. As you make the case for your project’s contribution to the greater good, you can rely on Orr to help make the case for climate action now.

Orr’s philosophy dovetails with the EnergyWorks’ model, as one Boston Globe review summed it up: “[F]or Orr, climate change is the only issue, not one among many.” Just as third-voices can be so critical to building credibility and adding new faces to your community engagement, resources like Orr’s book should be in the tool box. Buy a bunch. Even if you dole them out selectively, the independent reinforcement of your narrative is valuable. Or, to the contrary, if someone disagrees or doesn’t like the book, its a conversation piece, and it may get you talking.


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An award-winning energy and environmental law scholar, Joe combines professional experience in utility sector government, community and regulatory affairs with a background in security clearance-required military intelligence and offers unique insight and complex analysis of energy infrastructure, technology and policy in national security, international trade and climate change and carbon-restrained economics contexts.Joe was awarded the Suffolk University Jurisprudence Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Environmental Law for his work analyzing the pathways and obstacles to adoption of renewable energy in state, federal and international energy policy. ”Home Rule on the Ropes,” his paper on renewable energy zoning in Massachusetts is on SSRN’s Top Ten lists for the Journal on Urban Economics & Public Policy and the Journal of Public Policy. And, he was awarded Suffolk Law’s 2009-2010 McCormack Scholarhship in recognition of excellence in research and writing, including his paper – ”Coming up ACES?” – on the NAFTA and WTO implications of the national renewable portfolio standard limitation proposed in the Waxman-Markey energy bill.A research assistant on Westlaw’s definitive energy regulation reference, ”The Law of Independent Power,” Joe is also a former state legislative aide and US Army linguist who tested at professional profiency in Russian and Spanish.His writing on law, politics and policy is also featured on the blog at and lives in Boston with his wife and two young children. In his spare time, Joe is the founder and curator of the corporate social responsibility network on LinkedIn, and is an avid runner who recently posted a personal best in in the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon in Orlando.

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