Groups Form Strategic Alliance to Meet Emerging Environmental Challenges

Groups Form Strategic Alliance to Meet Emerging Environmental Challenges

Montpelier, VT — Two of Vermont’s statewide environmental groups announced October 9 they are creating a strategic partnership to help better prepare Vermont for the future.

The Vermont Natural Resources Council, or VNRC, and Vermont Conservation Voters, or VCV (formerly the League of Conservation Voters) announced today they had formed an alliance in part to help Vermonters and their communities contend with the emerging environmental challenges of the coming decades.

The organizations, which have been mainstays of the Vermont conservation movement, will remain separate entities and pursue their complementary missions, but will have overlapping boards of directors.

VNRC, the state’s oldest Vermont-based statewide environmental group is known for its well-researched advocacy and focus on public education and citizen involvement. VCV has a legal structure that allows it to donate money to legislative candidates, lobby full time at the State House, and hold elected and administrative officials accountable for their votes.

Part of the impetus for the new collaboration stems from concerns of both organizations that Vermont will need to be nimble in coordinating policy and politics and a conviction that Vermont needs to sustain its natural leadership on environmental issues.

“We need to develop new strategies to meet new challenges and we think partnerships that can expand our impact are key,” said Beth Humstone, chair of VNRC’s Board of directors.

New challenges expected in the coming decades include:

  • Generally rising energy costs and the need to insulate Vermonters from these costs by helping them seal their homes, develop cheaper transportation options, and keep downtowns ­– which are inherently efficient from a transportation perspective – vital.
  • Growing public and private sector costs, including public safety costs, associated with unstable weather, like floods and windstorms caused by climate change.
  • Development pressures in the state such as wasteful land development patterns and people moving to the relative safety and security of Vermont from costal regions.
  • Increasing demand for clean water – both from within and outside Vermont – and related increasing development pressure.

Humstone and Stark Biddle, Board chairman of VCV Board, were quick to emphasize there are many dedicated Vermonters working hard to protect and enhance the environment, including state government employees, town officials, local volunteers, other statewide and regional environmental groups, as well as private citizens.

Biddle said that combining VNRC’s widely respected environmental policy work with VCV’s ability to directly support candidates, hold them accountable, and recruit “green” candidates increases the ability of each organization to influence environmental policy. He added that the alliance helps the environmental community capitalize on and build on Vermont’s historical leadership on conservation.

“We have big energy and conservation challenges – perhaps bigger and more complex than ever, and a closer alliance between these two groups, with their complementary missions, will be critical for the coming decades,” Biddle said.