Monday, November 19, 2007
Few developments have galvanized the American farm belt in the past century as much as the ethanol craze, which promises to bring wealth and world attention back to the land of grain. But ethanol distilleries are not farms, and plans to build an army of them in midst of farmland is raising considerable opposition, under local land use law. Even in states that hold "right to farm" laws that hinder suits by newcomers who might otherwise complain that farms' smells and noises constitute a "nuisance" are balking at the installation of large factories that appear like oil refiners in the middle of farmland. This goes to show that the disruption of land use expectations - even if touted as a great boon the local economy - are likely face local hostility, from urban NIMBY to suburban exclusionary zoning to Midwestern hesitation over the new farm economy.