It’s time for the Star Tribune’s Business section to stop cheering every report of increased oil production out of North Dakota (“N. Dakota sets monthly record for gas output,” May 16). The peer-reviewed science is now overwhelming and irrefutable: To avoid the worst of the climate devastation we are leaving our kids, we need to transition to carbon-free energy ASAP. These oil production reports need to reflect the reality that producing and burning fossil fuels needs to be quickly reduced and eliminated. To ignore this crisis is to risk and gamble our kids’ futures.
A good place to start would be to end the massive government subsidies we’ve been giving the fossil-fuel industry since the 1940s. Oil and gas is one of our most heavily subsidized industries, receiving over $20 billion last year in some estimates. Many of these benefits are unique to oil and gas and include first-year deductibility of intangible costs, percentage depletion allowance, master limited partnerships, deductibility of royalty payments (while dividends aren’t), royalty income as capital gains, royalty income not subject to the unrelated business income tax, and others. These are far in excess of the soon-to-expire clean energy subsidies. In the meantime, you and I will keep picking up the tab for these dirty-energy subsidies.
The fossil fuel players are desperately using these arcane tax giveaways to tilt the playing field in their favor. The Koch brothers, Chevron and Shell fund lobbyists and editorialists to continue their campaign of misinformation to stall clean-energy initiatives. With billions in profits at stake, they’re waging a dark-money all-out war on clean energy supporters.
Whether it’s paying their own “scientists” to refute the data, lobbying to increase the tax subsidies they’re addicted to or ending the temporary subsidies for clean energy alternatives, you can find organizations funded by the fossil-fuel industry behind it.
I’d like to see the business journalists work with the scientific journalists to state how many additional tons of carbon will be airborne with each increased oil announcement.
Mark Andersen, Wayzata
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I always read meterologist Paul Douglas’ words of wisdom and appreciate his good humor and his generally accurate weather forecasts. However, frequently it seems that he is skeptical about climate change. For example, on June 1, he first pointed out that there have been more than 500 tornadoes in one month five times in the last 19 years and asked if these are symptoms of climate change. “Not so fast,” he says. This is an “emerging science.” Then he mentions that floods are becoming more numerous, saying, “An apparent increase in tornadoes and even large hail may have less to do with climate change and more to do with changes in observation [and] new technology.” Regarding whether these are real signals of climate change: “Too early to tell.”
According to NASA and other sources, 97% or more of scientists are in agreement that the climate is changing due to human causes. With the world hurtling toward destruction (what will happen to the millions of climate refugees from nearly all coastal areas and islands as the ocean rise?), we need bold leadership who will forecast (that is Douglas’ speciality) what is happening and what can be done about it before it is too late (or is it already too late?). Paul Douglas could provide that leadership. If he is not willing to be that leader, then he does not deserve to be the featured meteorologist for the Star Tribune.
Robert Kriesel, Stillwater
Be strong in gun reforms so you don’t have to be strong in grief
Here we go again. Another “strong” — this time, “Virginia Beach Strong” (“12 dead in Virginia office shooting,” front page, June 1). Another massacre we package up like a Hollywood movie. We see all the interviews with city officials praising the ability of the community to come together. They convince us the community will come back better and stronger. We all get some good feels.
I’m done with strong. I don’t want a community to have to come together in grief. I want a community to come together to educate and change gun laws. That’s my kind of strong.
Anita Fisher, Burnsville
To regulate, focus on mining risks
The recent counterpoint opinion advocating for copper-nickel mining, in particular the Twin Metals mine (“Anti-mining groups ignore that laws require science, balance,” May 31), alleges that those opposed to this type of mining fail to recognize the science. Their argument is that a recent study found “no new science to require a 20-year ban on copper nickel mining.” Because the referenced study was completed under an administration that seems determined to weaken existing regulations, a healthy dose of skepticism seems prudent.
It’s not about the science, which for the most part is not in dispute. It is about regulation and risk. Risk is a combination of the likelihood and consequences of an adverse event.
Fact: Tailings from copper-nickel sulfide mining operations are stored wet, in very large retention impoundments. Fact: Acidic leachates from these tailings can cause serious problems. Finally, experiences in British Columbia, and more recently in Brazil, demonstrate the potential consequences of catastrophic failure of earthen retention dams. No matter the technology or regulatory requirements, residual risk remains. It’s clear that the potential risk extends far beyond the environment.
Regulations are the basis for making a determination of permitted use. Current regulations pertaining to nonferrous mining under the Minnesota Mineland Reclamation Act (from 1969) are dated and vague. Without clear standards, the regulatory process may rely less on scientific and engineering expertise, and more on political whim.
There is a belt of copper deposits extending across northern Minnesota, leaving little doubt of additional mining proposals. Minnesota needs to get its regulatory house in order.
John Goodfellow, Marine on St. Croix
Let’s choose to be better than Trump
As we try to figure out the meaning of the Mueller report and the impact of Donald Trump’s latest threatened tariffs (“Disbelief, exasperation over Trump’s new tariff,” June 1), I am sick and tired of hearing how this president is destroying our country, our government, our moral standing, our role as a respected world leader. Trump could not be accomplishing what he is if we were not accomplices. He has stirred our underbelly and shown us what our patriotic platitudes are covering. What we thought we’d evolved beyond.
The way to redeem ourselves as an exceptional nation is to recognize this reality and step up to the plate individually or in kindred groups. To march, to petition, to teach, to vote. To understand morality clearly enough to realize that whatever material benefits this administration might be providing, they are plainly ill-gotten goods and we are making Faustian bargains that will haunt our descendants for decades.
Are we really willing to abdicate this brave experiment of democratic government and leave our children and grandchildren to figure it out all over again?
We are perfectly capable of managing our budget wisely while also providing thoughtful, humane and respectful assistance to community as a whole. Indeed, to the world.
Trump is undeniably the most transparent president in history — he plays out his immoralities and abuses of power in clear sight, with no apology or understanding of history, our government or his fitting role in both. And too many of us are allowing him this freedom. We should be better than this.
Shawn O’Rourke Gilbert, Edina