A recent commentary from state Rep. Jeremy Munson induced several letter writers to object to his claim that green energy has unaccounted-for environmental costs, including the need for mining (“ ‘Green’ energy relies on copper-nickel mining,” Opinion Exchange, Dec. 12). The objecting letters included the idea that need promotes new technology and that we must accept “sacrifice” to avoid environmental degradation.
To these I say “hogwash.” I know little about Rep. Munson’s claims. But if technological innovation is spurred by need — with which I agree — then I wonder about the lack of a cry for carbon capture or a unified call for the recycling of spent nuclear fuel. These technologies exist today. But for various reasons, they are shunned by environmentalists.
Nuclear is the most powerful, efficient, cleanest form of energy generation. By far. For fear-mongering reasons, we don’t build new plants or recycle the spent fuel, and we look to shutter the generation we have. This is based on a 1977 ban, but there have been zero incidents related to fuel-recycling anywhere — most notably in France and Japan.
Carbon capture is simple technology, although currently expensive. But with attention and research, it should be used alongside the most reliable, abundant form of energy production — especially given our vast carbon-based resources and existing generation and distribution infrastructure. Unfortunately the activist left is not interested — they seek destruction of the carbon-based fuel industry, more than they want clean, affordable energy.
History is not a story of increasing sacrifice. It is one of increasing advancement. We should put our resources where they lead to progress, not regress.
Stephen Grittman, Buffalo, Minn.
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For me there’s always been just the one answer to what Rep. Munson misleadingly poses as a unresolvable dilemma. Yes, renewables and nonrenewables are bad for the environment. So ... let’s use our democratically elected government to balance the voracious appetites of big business. Let’s turn marketing-manipulated consumers back into informed voters. Let’s take a lesson from history. Let’s do an honest accounting of the original New Deal. Let’s remember why people found happiness and purpose in sacrificing for the war effort.
I have long argued that before we tout the replacement of fossil fuels with renewables as a seamless, even lucrative (win-win) solution to climate change, we do the numbers with the environmental price figured in this time around. All of it. Then we’ll see that conservation is the only way out of this mess: radically downsizing, by government mandate, consumer spending on useless and polluting products including phones, private jets (and most commercial aviation), disposable clothing, a vast military, toxic food, SUVs and bottled water.
We’ve come to think we can’t tolerate life without such things. We forget that humans never had them at all a scant four decades ago, back when Americans’ lifespans were going up, not down. We also had relatively equitable wealth distribution after World War II until President Ronald Reagan took office. Then the neoliberal nightmare began in earnest. “Raising all boats” was the pretext for destroying the human habitat. There have never been more billionaires; yet we have a widening wealth gap. Let’s close that gap, beginning in the United States.
The Green New Deal is not perfect, but it reflects a profound rethinking of priorities that is essential to the survival of life as we know it on Earth.
Bonnie Blodgett, St. Paul
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Rep. Munson suggests that fossil fuels are not much worse to the environment than green energy. Interesting point, but that is not what the debate over letting Twin Metals mine in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is about.
Just a few years ago (pre-Trump), the Environmental Protection Agency declared copper-sulfide mining to be the most toxic industry in the country. Now we are considering allowing a foreign mining company with a dismal track record for environment and labor to place that toxic industry right next to the BWCA. Our current administration has supported this by stopping related studies, burying existing information and doing its best to further fast-track the process with minimal public input.
Meanwhile, our federal and state tax dollars subsidize oil, gas and coal industries billions of dollars a year. All that while Big Oil made about $28 billion in 2018 in the U.S. alone. Those industries no longer need such large subsidies.
If green energy sectors were continuously subsidized like that, they would be more advanced with more eco-friendly technology. Technology existing only as ideas and protoypes today could morph into sustainable energy sources tomorrow. Today’s electric cars are merely steps toward less dependence on fossil fuels.
But until we realize and rethink all this, our national treasure should not be purposely placed in the path of probable ecological disaster with us, the taxpayers, left to deal with the inevitable toxic mess that is copper-sulfide mining.
Debra Masters, Shoreview
We don’t need this fight every year
Every year that Minnesota’s budget forecast shows a surplus, the rhetoric spans from cutting taxes to spending ideas. What’s not discussed is how Minnesotans arrived here and whether there could be a different approach.
So, let’s take a brief look back. Forty years ago, Minnesota lawmakers decided to share state tax dollars. This became known as the Minnesota Miracle and was viewed as a success.
What followed was years of applying the solution over and over. Funding U.S. Bank Stadium, transit, county roads, city budgets, broadband internet and economic development. It seems that everything can be solved with state tax dollars — well, state tax dollars and a bureaucracy to manage state tax dollars.
A more bold discussion would be about which items should be centralized and funded at the state level and which items should be decentralized and funded at the local level.
Ronald S. Hobson, St. Louis Park
‘Age-friendliness’ encompasses a lot
I commend Gov. Tim Walz for taking the initiative to ensure that Minnesota is a great place to live for all people as they age (“Walz wants Minnesota ‘age-friendly,’ ” Dec. 13). As a relatively new resident of the state, I have been pleased to find the network of services and supports available in Minnesota. As noted in the article, there are a number of communities that have taken the forward-looking step of taking action to be an age-friendly community. And about 50 Minnesota communities are working toward becoming dementia-friendly.
While much progress has been achieved in Minnesota, there is much to do. The Star Tribune has documented issues related to residential care. The workforce of care providers needs attention. We need to address accessibility and mobility for a growing population that is more likely to have difficulty moving around the community. And we need to recognize the resource that an active and healthy group of new retirees offers in promoting the social and economic welfare of Minnesota.
I look forward to following the progress made as a result of this important initiative.
Mark Intermill, Robbinsdale