The Star Tribune Editorial Board revealed an unrealistic view toward oil resources with “For safety’s sake, let Enbridge build” (March 10), a view that has been common in the present political climate. The fact is, suggesting the creation of new fossil-fuel infrastructure that will help put us on track toward making food shortages, floods, heat waves and polar vortices the norm can be called many things, but an argument for safety is not one of them. What we need now from both the governor and news organizations like the Star Tribune is an openness to realism about our future and a strong political imagination. While the Editorial Board is correct that stopping the new line on its own won’t eliminate Minnesota’s role in moving fossil fuels, we can stop the new Line 3, remove the old line and also end rail shipments of petroleum through this state all while creating new (green) energy jobs if we have the will to do so. What we can’t do is continue to pretend that constructing Line 3 has anything to do with safety or realism.
Rami Jubara, Minneapolis
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For the Editorial Board to acknowledge the need to wean society from fossil fuels in “Time to move ahead with clean energy” (March 6) was commendable. Its call four days later to complete the new Line 3 pipeline was contradictory. How does the board support a project with the environmentally destructive equivalent of 50 coal-fired power plants while backing a carbon-free plan? It raises the question: On what date should we start the weaning process? If you don’t subscribe to the selective science mind-set, the climate science community has laid out a painfully short timeline response: Be carbon-neutral by 2050 or suffer. Suffer a lot. Yet the Editorial Board bases its Line 3 support on a safety issue. Interesting.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) did the same thing. The Enbridge legal team testified during the Line 3 hearings that if the new pipeline was not permitted, Enbridge would continue to operate the existing pipeline and repair leaks as they are discovered. PUC Member Dan Lipschultz commented during the “certificate of need” vote that the threat the old Line 3 poses was like having a gun to commissioners’ heads. That is to say, the PUC played into the false dichotomy of either giving Enbridge what it wanted or accepting the certainty of existing Line 3 failures. Yet, as noted by the Department of Commerce, the disposition of the existing pipeline is independent of the PUC’s new Line 3 decision. That responsibility rests with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The permitting evaluation process serves to determine if a project, such as proposed pipeline, provides a net benefit to all Minnesotans. The process is not over, and Minnesota should not be cowed into bad decisions.
Jerry Striegel, St. Paul
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The Editorial Board states that “Minnesota’s problem in separating itself from fossil fuels is far larger than Line 3, and will take decades to accomplish.” According to the most recent IPCC report we simply don’t have decades to wean ourselves off fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change. The editorial only considered three options: either we replace Line 3, allow the dangerous existing Line 3 to continue to operate, or ship oil by rail. But the fourth and best option was not seriously considered: shut down the existing pipeline, don’t build a new one, and don’t allow rail shipment of carbon intensive tar sands oil across our state. The Line 3 project will have more than double the capacity of the existing Line 3, and the shipped oil will have a total CO2 equivalent of 50 coal fired power plants, not to mention the disastrous effects of a potential oil spill in some of the most pristine wilderness in our entire country. How can this not be a large problem? How is the Editorial Board’s position consistent with its claimed commitment to “environmental quality and clean energy goals?” They state the PUC’s process was “rigorous and exhaustive”. What about the rigorous and exhaustive process by the scientists and experts of the Commerce Department, who concluded that this project is not in the best interest of Minnesota?
James Doyle, St. Paul
What really happened when spending didn’t factor in inflation
Peter Hutchinson, finance commissioner under Gov. Rudy Perpich, takes the Star Tribune Editorial Board to task for advocating that inflation be factored in the state’s economic forecast (“Why inflation doesn’t belong in spending forecasts,” March 10). He proudly boasts of being the architect of its removal.
However, he fails to mention the calamitous results which our administration inherited in January 1991. The deficit reached $2.3 billion, the bond rating downgraded and the reserve funds depleted.
The process of returning to financial health was painful to everyone because it involved spending cuts and tax increases. John Gunyou, our new finance commissioner, and his assistant, Laura King, led the administration in building bipartisan coalitions that supported long-term financial planning with inflation included, more disciplined spending and job-growth reforms.
In 1999, the new administration inherited a surplus of more than $2 billion and a AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies.
Arne H. Carlson, Minneapolis
The writer was governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999.
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I know it is a mistake to write about two things in one letter, but I hope someone will pay attention. Peter Hutchinson’s editorial counterpoint shows why it is a mistake to appoint folks without knowledge of the basic principles of mathematics to positions where this is a prerequisite. An equation is invalid when a crucial part occurs on one side and not the other. That’s why inflation needs to be taken into account on both the spending and revenue sides.
Meanwhile, it’s nice to see the gender biases in medical testing revealed (“Lost from research: Women,” Science+Health, March 10). One of the most appalling things I found out about this issue is that it carries through in animal research studies also. Do folks know if this is being corrected?
Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis
The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House.
‘CULTURE OF SEXISM’ AT VA
Make the following changes
I was surprised and not surprised on reading “Culture of sexism at VA centers is driving away female veterans” (March 13). Surprised because I, as a woman veteran, have never experienced nor observed what Army veteran Corey Foster has unfortunately experienced, and not surprised because the VA has traditionally been a male-dominated military environment. But, I think the article paints all VA hospitals/clinics with a very broad brush.
During 15 years of care at the Minneapolis and Milwaukee VAs, I never have felt anything less than respect from staff nor any disrespect from other veterans. Are there incidents of patients or staff engaging in sexist behavior? Of course! But not at every VA facility for every woman vet.
By 2015, the increase of women in the military and their role expansion to include combat led to more than 500,000 women being enrolled in VA health care. Women will make up 11 percent of all veterans by 2020. The military’s macho culture, its attitudes and behavior toward women, are transitioning. Changes at VA facilities have begun and must accelerate. Having separate health care facilities is not the answer. So, what should be done?
• Require changes in VA policies/procedures to establish an environment respectful of women.
• Increase the number of women VA facility managers.
• Support the Congressional House Veterans Affairs Committee investigation of women’s health care and harassment.
• Demand strong, yearly anti-sexist training for all military personnel.
Some VAs are leading the charge. Others need to follow!
Arlys Herem, Richfield