A Thorny Question Indeed!

At the July 26 meeting of the Vermont Climate Council, member Richard Cowart raised what he admitted might be “a thorny question.” Thorny or not, it was a very good one. It illustrates very clearly how government interventions in the free market, using carrots and sticks to influence people’s behavior in singular, predetermined ways can lead to disastrous conclusions.

Cowart’s question raised the inconvenient fact that policies encouraging concentrated development in existing town centers (aka, ironically as you will see, “Smart Growth,”) is incompatible with the concept of “resilience,” making sure communities and their infrastructure to better prepared to withstand future climate events like Tropical Storm Irene, because Vermont’s town centers are overwhelmingly located in areas at high risk for flooding.

In Cowart’s words, “Vermont has for many years articulated a Smart Growth, village-centered growth strategy, and that’s frequently mentioned in our work with the Climate Council. But, a lot of Vermont’s villages have historically been developed in river corridors. And, you know, if we concentrate development in those corridors, we’re concentrating it where there is increased risk to flooding. I’m sure you’ve given thought to this. How do you square those two things?”

Cowart’s question was met with uncomfortable giggling and a word cloud of jargon. The two positions really can’t be squared.

So, will state policy be to essentially force citizens into the belly of a – literally – sinking ship via (not so) Smart Growth, or allow those citizens to man the lifeboats and develop housing, businesses, etc. on higher ground. The former is more compatible with the Global Warming Solutions Act’s mandate to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the latter is more humanitarian and commonsensical. Bets on which way they’ll go?

Maybe… just maybe… we don’t want these people making these decisions for us.


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Enter Comment Here:

  • James Hall                 (RET)
    commented 2021-08-01 11:10:17 -0400
    This Climate Council will not come up with anything resulting in common sense and VT-type-judgement….I am Talking judgement of former days, mid 1900 style where everyone had a piece of the action if they were willing to work for it. Nowadays, it is only for the rich imports; natives cannot afford to live here. This was all by design just look at the crazy Legislature; these are NOT Vermonters folks, and their work tells us that. The Climate Council is from that mold as well, so brace yourselves is all I can say. This is one more step in driving us out.
  • Mark Donka
    commented 2021-07-30 17:31:45 -0400
    I moved to VT for the rural aspect of the state 42 years ago. I like living on a dirt road where I can’t see my neighbors. With the current housing boom the people with unlimited money are buying up huge tracks of land and causing taxes to go sky high. These policy’s will only affect the working class not the rich.
  • David Flemming
    published this page in EAI Blog 2021-07-29 10:47:13 -0400