Past President, Vermont Land Trust
To meet our environmental, economic and energy challenges, we must focus in at least three areas:
Reduce Fossil Fuel Use: Vermonters export $1.5 billion annually to purchase fossil fuels, an enormous loss to our economy. We will keep more of these dollars in circulation here by making our buildings more energy efficient, promoting solar generation, and reducing commuter driving. I also favor using wood pellets for heating, if they are produced on a small (40-50-000 green tons) scale. The pellet mill in North Clarendon buys its material from local woodlots. Loggers get better prices for their low quality wood, landowners have better options for forest management, and home and business owners have the convenience of fully automated pellet furnaces.
Build More Affordable Housing: To preserve our working landscape and revitalize our community centers, we must build more affordable housing close to employment, schools, shopping, and other services. This will not only help attract young families and give older Vermonters an opportunity to downsize, but it will reduce the pressure for subdivision and development of undeveloped lands upon which our quality of life and our agricultural, forestry, and tourism industries depend.
Focus on the Entrepreneur: While we may hope for the next IBM, our best chance to build Vermont’s economy is to focus on entrepreneurs, who have good ideas but need help to get them into production. The astonishing transformation of our agricultural and food industries has taken place because government, investors, land trusts, lenders, philanthropic organizations, and many others have made it possible for innovative farmers, cheese producers, beer brewers, and other entrepreneurs to pursue their ambitions.