The June 3 front page reported that 46 percent of Minnesota’s electricity is generated with coal. A high percentage of that coal comes from Appalachia, and a high percentage of Appalachian coal is extracted by mountaintop removal. In Minneapolis-St. Paul, we may be 1,000 miles away from the coal fields of Appalachia, but every time we flip on a light switch, charge our cellphones or ride the light rail, the distance evaporates.

Next week, I will lead a group of six youths and four adults from Judson Memorial Baptist Church on a work trip/pilgrimage to my home state of West Virginia. I want to introduce them to the rich culture, wonderful people and beautiful environment of Appalachia. But I also want them to see that our 46 percent comes with a massive social, cultural and environmental cost.

I hope that by 2030, when the youths on next week’s pilgrimage are starting families, prospering in their jobs and inhabiting their homes, Minnesota will once again lead the nation not only in carbon emissions reductions but that it also will have become the first state to have none of its electricity generated with coal.

The Rev. G. Travis Norvell, Minneapolis


Trade for American POW proves divisive

The June 4 editorial about Bowe Bergdahl’s release (“Bergdahl critics desert American values”) made several false claims. First, the Editorial Board says it is “unclear” how Bergdahl was captured, that “lingering questions” remain. The facts are that he wrote an e-mail to his parents disparaging his mission, his service and his country. He stacked up his weapon, helmet and body armor, left a note stating he was going to start a “new life” and vanished. What lingering questions remain? The color of his clothes? You also say we haven’t heard from him yet, but we have. He says he was captured after falling behind on a patrol, a patrol that his fellow soldiers stated never occurred that night. And it’s odd that if he was captured on patrol, how is it his weapon, helmet and body armor were found in the camp? Finally, the rescue efforts to find this man did not just put others “in harm’s way.” We know of at least six soldiers who died as a direct result of reconnaissance missions looking for him. Perhaps more.

Is the Editorial Board suggesting that “support our troops” means “excuse all deserters?” Perhaps the Star Tribune could print up a few of those bumper stickers for those who agree with its position. Do we excuse a capital offense because he spent five years drinking green tea and playing badminton with his captors? No one argues the ability of the president to trade POWs, but more and more, this looks like we’ve traded five Taliban fighters for one Taliban fighter.

Erik Marksberry, Circle Pines

• • •

Thank you for your beautifully worded opinion on Sgt. Bergdahl. It is everything I have been thinking and discussing with my son, who served back-to-back deployments to Iraq (remember the “surge”?). We have been extremely frustrated by the opinions noted in all media outlets. My son’s frustration has been: “What happened to never leaving a brother behind?” Mine has been: “Were you there? Did you take an oath to die for your country and then live it out day to day?”

I’m not a Democrat, but I fully support President Obama’s actions to free our POW. As a mother who had a son in combat — and a grateful American to all our military members — yes, I fully support this rescue. This action didn’t come out of nowhere. It sounds like negotiations had been ongoing.

I can’t wait to share this article with my son. I wish Sgt. Bergdahl could see it as well.

AnnMarie Anderson, Bloomington

• • •

Comparing Bergdahl, a soldier who appears to have walked off his post unarmed and into enemy territory, to the diplomats held hostage in Iran during a violent coup by a theocratic regime is a stretch at best. Also, Bergdahl’s colleagues who searched for him were not simply “put in harm’s way,” as the editorial asserts. A number of them were killed while on search missions. Questioning the decision to trade five known terrorists for Sgt. Bergdahl seems reasonable, and not a desertion of American values as the Editorial Board claims.

Preston McKenzie, Eagan

• • •

I can’t judge Bergdahl’s alleged behavior. I haven’t been anywhere near his shoes. I wonder how many people engaged in the discussion are like me. We should not be judging.

If my children chose a college that ended up not being the right choice, they could quit and come home. If they chose the Army, Marines or Navy and it ended up being the wrong choice — what are their options?

Becky Carpenter, Minneapolis

• • •

As a former West Point cadet, I am outraged at Obama’s swapping five high-level Guantanamo terrorism detainees for Bergdahl. Bergdahl probably will go through years of publicly paid therapy and go on the lecture circuit about his ordeal and earn millions. Meanwhile, the Taliban detainees probably will return to their murderous ways and destabilize Afghanistan. Are we that arrogant to think that one cowardly U.S. soldier is worth five Taliban fighters? I would have left him behind. Our government has set a dangerous precedent in negotiating with terrorists. No one is worth that much.

Keith Aleshire, St. Louis Park



Green Line growth is there if you look

The May 31 article “Soon-to-launch Green Line’s role as a growth engine so-so” definitely did not reflect what I and many others see happening on the light-rail line in St. Paul. What surprises me is how much has happened, not how little — and the Green Line has yet to begin operation. There is obvious progress all along the line, from the State Capitol on the east to the city limits on the west. All one has to do is look.

Our company is one of many businesses involved in revitalizing property along the Green Line. We developed the C&E Lofts Historic Apartments near the Raymond Avenue Station, have another project underway nearby and are working on the Custom House mixed-use project near the Union Depot in Lowertown. Quite simply, if the Green Line and these stations were not there, our company and our substantial investments would not be there, either.

I agree with the quote from Mayor Chris Coleman that people should be patient. But it is misleading for Star Tribune reporters to downplay widespread examples of recognizable progress.

James A. Stolpestad, St. Paul


The writer is chairman of the Exeter Group.