Locals Thwart New Kansas Tyson Plant—Why Doesn't This Happen More Often?

In the annals of social movements, one of the ones that most clearly achieved its objectives was the wave of U.S. anti-nuclear protests in the 1970s. Across the U.S., those who lived near nuclear power plants picketed, blockaded, and disrupted construction of plants, including taking strategic advantage of the Three Mile Island incident to effectively end nuclear power across the U.S. Nuclear power in the U.S. now has a monumental stigma against it quite unlike other developed countries—nuclear power is even a primary source for France's energy infrastructure. (U.S. policy is likely mistaken, as nuclear power is relatively safe).

This week, Kansas offers some inspiration for animal advocates on a model we should consider. Tyson is being forced to back out of a huge new chicken facility after 2,000 out of 5,000 residents of neighboring town Tonganoxie protested last Friday over environmental concerns.

Tyson is scrambling and will likely find somewhere to build not too far from there, but if everywhere they went (and everywhere they already are), they had to contend with massive local protests, that would start to impose a serious cost of doing business on them. Beyond that, it would dramatize the issue in a public way, much as the controversial and indirect environmentalist tactic of targeting pipelines has. NIMBYism is hardly admirable on its own, but why not try to steer it in a productive direction? Let's start gathering our friends and family to make more Tonganoxies.


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