What should happen vs. what will …

The Jan. 7 Business section described a glut of oil in the United States. We are pumping out more than we can use domestically.

For 38 years, there has been a ban on the export of crude oil from the country. Now oil companies want that ban lifted so U.S.-produced crude can be sold on the world market. Given the clout of Big Oil in Congress, I presume the industry will get what it wants. Why? For the same reason anything gets done in Congress these days. Money. Big profits.

I have a solution: Stop drilling new wells. The reason we had the ban on exports was to preserve our resource for domestic use. The best way to preserve it is to leave it in the ground. It’s time to stop drilling and start fervently working on sources of renewable and clean energy.

BILL HABEDANK, Red Wing, Minn.

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Mayor Ed McConnell of Casselton, N.D., thinks it’s time to have a conversation about shipping oil by pipeline (“Evacuation ends for North Dakota City near oil inferno,” Jan. 1). However, the same story offers what appears to be another way: It points out that the rail cars that contained the oil that burned after a derailment are designed to carry nonpressurized liquids. It states that many are being replaced, but it cites a member of the National Transportation Safety Board as saying that none of the cars carrying the crude through Casselton was of the newer, reinforced design.

Let’s update our rail cars before risking a disaster like the March 2013 Alabama pipeline ruptures that spilled 80,000 gallons of crude.

Jean Heberle, St. Anthony



Yes, it’s valuable, but there are limits

I agree with much of what the writer of the Jan. 7 Letter of the Day (“A militarized United States has made the world a better place”) says about America’s role to preserve and promote the peace of our world in the 20th century. I, too, feel proud of a nation that can mobilize its resources, its collective will and even its fighting spirit to meet the enemy and prevail. Being an American practically means to prevail.

It’s helpful to know even now, as history teaches, that this nation is still capable of mobilizing to meet a danger to its existence. But history also teaches that it’s unhelpful and even dangerous to act like an occupying army and as the world’s police force after the peace is won, just because the world presents its dangers. Being chronically militarized is an unhealthy state of mind and, I would venture, even sets us up for defeat.

STEVEN MAYER, Minneapolis



Local resources for tough conversations

The Jan. 6 article about the Conversation Project (“Tough talk of a different kind”) highlights an important issue. Everyone should ask: “Who will make decisions for me if I can’t make them myself?” and then discuss their choices with loved ones. It’s very important for people to understand their options regarding medical care, especially surrounding end-of-life care. This can be daunting and often requires the assistance of a trained facilitator.

Minnesotans are fortunate to have great resources locally. In St. Cloud, Light the Legacy is dedicated (lightthelegacy.com) to improving end-of-life care in central Minnesota. Light the Legacy promotes Honoring Choices Minnesota, a program (honoringchoices.org) for encouraging conversations and advance directives sponsored by the Twin Cities Medical Society. Both of these organizations provide excellent information and resources on their websites and can connect people with trained facilitators to guide them through The Conversation.

As Ellen Goodman says, “It’s too soon, until it’s too late.”




Here’s your reason for funding past ‘big three’

It is impossible not to respond to a Jan. 6 letter writer (“There’s a reality we all need to face”) regarding “big-time” college sports and their funding. He asks for one good reason why revenue from the “big three” — basketball, football and hockey — should help fund other collegiate sports.

Here’s your reason: very smart, highly motivated students. Our son is a rower at a Big Ten school and is but one of thousands of extremely hardworking, academically successful, highly productive students. These students represent their respective institutions at all levels, both academically and athletically, and (here’s a good one) often tutor the “big three” athletes in order for them to maintain eligibility requirements. How’s that for another reason?

In contrast to the “big three,” here’s what these students often don’t represent: endless college parties and associated drunkenness, weekend-long tailgate parties, significant failure rates, arrest records and (at the University of Minnesota) about a 52 percent four-year graduation rate.

I doubt that, as the letter writer hypothesizes, 99 of 100 U students wouldn’t miss these nonfunded sports — they’re smarter than that. But I agree that he unfortunately represents a typical viewing public that would share this attitude.