A recent oped in this paper by Suzanna Jones stated the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) is advocating for a provision in S.101 (a bill promoting housing choice and opportunity in smart growth areas) that would put our waterways at risk at the expense of development. We are not a proponent of what Jones is discussing and believe her op-ed is misleading or misinformed. But more broadly, we are concerned about the divisive approach taken.

VNRC has been engaged in public policy since 1963, and we welcome healthy and vigorous debate about important policy decisions. Jones is engaging in a different realm. Here and in other columns, Jones has maligned VNRC in gratuitous attacks on the organization’s character, with accusations about our motives and positions that are untrue and unnecessary to any discussion about public policy.

VNRC’s perspective has always been that, where and how development occurs, matters — and that people matter, just as our natural resources do. We know people need affordable housing, sustainable transportation and access to basic services, just as they need access to clean air and water. We have consistently advocated for all of these human and environmental needs.

We are not in disagreement with Jones’ indictments of income inequality and other flaws in how our economy functions. We object to inexplicably being scapegoated for these problems in a caustic way that only serves to divide us. We hope Vermonters will engage with us and others in constructive and respectful debates around the future of our state, which are sorely needed to address the significant challenges ahead.

Brian Shupe

VNRC executive director

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