As a member of the Republican Minnesota Senate caucus, I often vote opposite of DFL state Sen. John Marty. However, his July 2 commentary regarding the 2018 omnibus bill that was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton is spot-on (“To follow the Constitution, tame these 989-page Godzillas”). I appreciated his narrative of events, which rings true to my recollection.
I share Sen. Marty’s dismay with the scope and timing of the recent “mother of all omnibus bills.” I was surprised when our caucus decided to move forward with a strategy that involved such a huge, all-encompassing supplemental spending bill. There were so many good elements to the bill that I felt compelled to vote for it even though there were components I did not appreciate.
I asked questions of our caucus leaders during the session regarding the intent of the omnibus bill. I came to understand that the strategy of combining bills highly favored by the governor along with some that he objected to might allow some Republican proposals to become law simply because the overall impact of the bill might be too attractive for Dayton to veto. That is not what happened, and Dayton vetoed it. I can understand his action.
This strategy is nothing new, evidently. But the use of this tactic is on the upswing, and I am uncomfortable with this trend. Marty’s well-written essay explicated my discomfort, and I thank him for that. I also appreciate that he made it clear that this practice is a bipartisan tool used by both parties for a long time.
I pledge that I will try harder to do my part in future legislative sessions to see that this political ploy is used less often, regardless of which party is in the majority. Feel free to call me out if I am failing in this regard.
State Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska
PolyMet could be denied and the copper supply would survive
In the past, the Star Tribune has published a number of letters from beneficiaries of the proposed PolyMet or Twin Metals projects claiming that opponents of copper mining on the doorstep of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, like me, are hypocrites. Why? Because the cellphones we depend on contain copper. The logic is suspect, but I understand that they are expressing a layman’s opinion.
On its face, Jim Bowyer’s June 29 commentary, “Extraction worries many. Many also use copper,” appears to be a more sophisticated form of the same argument advocating for exploiting Minnesota’s copper reserves. Many of PolyMet’s proponents may refer to it as such.
I find Bowyer’s message to be the diametric opposite: that we are despoiling the Earth to sustain an impossible standard of living. Further exploiting the Earth’s resources — copper in this case — to develop electric-car and wind-turbine technologies that we hope will solve our environmental problems is fruitless and must fail in the end.
I suspect that he may be right. We do need to curb our appetite for material things; however, in the present — today — we must conserve the pristine environmental and cultural gem that is the Boundary Waters and its margins, if for no reason other than that they hold the most valuable commodity of them all: fresh water.
If, in its wisdom, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were to deny PolyMet its permit to threaten the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior, the world price of copper (and cellphones) would be absolutely unaffected. It is one of the most abundant metallic elements in the Earth’s crust. It is extracted from mines that are of an almost inconceivably gargantuan scale located in the most arid and inhospitable corners of the Earth. As copper is a commodity subject to a global market, the copper consumers of the world, and certainly of Minnesota, would little note PolyMet’s quiet demise.
Martin Cooney, Golden Valley
• • •
Thank you to Prof. Bowyer for his informative commentary on copper mining and the environment. I had no idea so much copper was being used by renewable-energy sources or what countries it was coming from. I am bewildered, however, by his focus on mining as the only source of this element, and I’m disturbed by his suggestion that there should perhaps be a 20-year moratorium on renewable energy in Minnesota if we don’t want to mine it here. I understand that oil, coal and natural gas, for example, are burned for energy and that they end up as heat and some undesirable byproducts, but does the copper in vehicles, wind turbines or solar panels become nonexistent or does it turn into something different after a period of time? Can’t it be extracted from these tools and reused? If it can, is the process more or less harmful to our environment than mining? He never touches on it, but is there no place for recycling and reusing?
Timothy Wirth, Lakeland
Democrats, lay out your stance; don’t let Trump do it for you
It’s time for Democrats to do more than oppose President Donald Trump’s moves on immigration. It’s time to present a plan that becomes legislation, whether or not Republican leadership allows it hearings. Voters need to know where Democrats stand and to hear it from them, not from Trump or his minions, who already have begun casting Democrats as for “open borders,” by which is meant immigration for all.
I object to the “opposition and obstruction only” approach that seems to be the rule of the day. There are undocumented immigrants who can and should be deported, just as there are Dreamers who should be given some form of legal status so that they can go about their lives, for the benefit of all. Too, there are parents whose children are American citizens. We need to discuss what their status should be — whether they are to be deported or permitted to stay and care for their children.
Democrats also need to have a rational discussion about border security, about grounds for asylum and about a properly staffed immigration court, preferably one independent of the attorney general and the Department of Justice. No agency should ever be witness, prosecutor, judge and executioner.
Enough resistance. It’s time for a counterattack.
James M. Hamilton, St. Paul
• • •
I’m impressed with the large crowds marching Saturday out of concern about the Trump administration’s treatment of refugees (front page, July 1). Good people showing compassion. At the same time, our country’s discussion should acknowledge that all countries must protect their borders. In the U.S., our border protection is coupled with a process by which folks seeking asylum are able to present themselves at the border. When someone illegally crosses, they must be stopped and treated with dignity and screened for real claims of needing asylum. But calling for the elimination of the agency of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including by candidates I have financially supported, is an example of an extreme response that turns off huge portions of the electorate. Democrats beware.
Paul Kaminski, Golden Valley