North Dakota accident has local implications

Here's hoping the oil train accident on the North Dakota prairie ("Evacuation ends for N.D. city near crude oil inferno," Jan. 1) convinces President Obama to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built. Believe it or not, we have eight to 10 of these oil trains passing through the Twin Cities per day.

Granted, you need a 60-mile-per-hour derailment to fracture a rail tank car and create steel sparks from the crash in which to ignite a fire, but it's also possible that an eastbound oil train traveling at 30 mph through northeast or southeast Minneapolis would have a chance to become a fireball disaster if it were to derail into a westbound train moving at 30 mph on a parallel track.

So the question of building pipelines or forcing oil to market via railroads should now have been answered on the outskirts of Casselton, N.D.


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The folks who oppose the Southwest light-rail line running through their neighborhoods should take a look at the picture of the huge mushroom cloud over North Dakota after the oil train exploded and derailed.

The privileged and influential few oppose the light-rail project because of noise and aesthetic reasons. Meanwhile, folks living near main freight lines throughout North Dakota, Minnesota and elsewhere face real possibilities of incineration and serious pollution risks.

Light-rail lines and other forms of mass transit reduce that risk by reducing our dependency on the oil that is shipped. This, in addition to providing a link that will reduce emissions and help people gain employment opportunities, means that the Southwest Line should be built for the needs of the many, not stopped by the few.



That 'crawl' is still sufficient for trouble

The Dec. 31 article "Population growth in U.S. slows to a crawl" suggested that a 0.72 percent annual rate of growth is a problem since it takes a "bite out of the economy." However, at this rate of growth any population will double in exactly 100 years, become four times larger in 200 years and eight times larger in 300 years. The author is correct that the recent rate of population growth is a problem — but because this growth rate is completely unsustainable over any extended period of time.

JIM BOWYER, Shoreview


Another battle zone in defense of freedom

The writer of "Five myths about obesity," (Dec. 31) provided insightful, constructive information about cause-and-effect factors of obesity and about some myths that relate to the subject. However, she went on to advocate further "standards and regulations to protect Americans from overeating."

This kind of mentality actually scares me. There are so many self-interest groups today that are influential enough to get their agendas on the government docket. This always seems to lead to further government intrusion and control of our freedoms and liberties relative to choices in and about our own lives. What galls me most is that these intrusions are initiated by politically inbred groups who are totally disconnected from the American constituency.



Colorado's example for smart policy

I never thought I would see it in my lifetime ("Colorado begins 2014 on a high note," Jan. 2). Hats off to that state for having enough sense to see the benefits of legalizing marijuana. Decriminalization means money out of the hands of criminals, and court time and jail time freed from the prosecution of weed. This saves the taxpayers money while also making money in the form of taxes on the sale of all products associated with the market. That's a double dip.

Please stop protecting us from ourselves. Alcohol went through the same process and has been a cash cow ever since. Time to wake up and smell the flowers.



Here's what's at core of possible service cuts

So the writer of the Jan. 2 Letter of the Day ("My mail experience shows less-frequent delivery is fine") thinks that "six-day-a-week residential mail delivery borders on the obscene." I'll tell you what I think is obscene: the relentless Republican assault on middle-class, blue-collar, unionized postal employees whose wages and benefits set the benchmark for the rest of us working fools. That's what it's all about.

Here's my idea: Every veteran returning after service to his country should be guaranteed a job with the Post Office. I don't care if mail delivery is seven days a week and twice on Sundays.

TIM WIRTH, Lakeland


Snowboarder story was a lift all around

Kudos to the Star Tribune's Libor Jany for getting the story behind the story regarding the snowboarder who suffered cardiac arrest at Afton Alps ("Snowboarder meets heroes who saved his life at ski hill," Jan. 1). While in and of itself that was a story of interest, the additional information regarding the possible positive impact on the recently retired deputy sheriff really was an upper. Perhaps this was an instance of something that was meant to be for everyone involved? Great story to start a New Year!

KAREN ALTPETER, Prescott, Wis.