What a start to my weekend — to open up the paper and see CEOs masquerading as concerned citizens and whining for a participation trophy: in this case, the approval of the Line 3 pipeline (“Stop delaying Line 3,” Readers Write, June 29).
Yes, Line 3 is the most studied pipeline in Minnesota history, but most of those studies (including the state’s own review and the analysis of the case record by the judge who built it) show that Line 3 would harm us more than it would help us, doesn’t comply with state law and should not be built. And 94% of the public agrees, based on the number of written comments opposed to the line.
Rather than hiding behind “Minnesotans for Line 3,” two of the letter writers, Mel Olson and Todd Rothe, should be clear about who they really are: the presidents of United Piping and JR Jensen, respectively — two Enbridge subcontractors who stand to see a cash windfall if this project moves forward.
Line 3 just lost in court because the spill risks to Lake Superior were never even studied. As a lifelong Minnesotan, this really concerns me. Rather than the kind of “process” that these corporate presidents want (which sounds suspiciously like plowing ahead with blinders on), I support the process of making sure our decisions are well-informed. Let’s not hand out participation trophies to pipeline execs who are losing on the merits of their case.
Andy Pearson, Minneapolis
TWIN METALS MINING
Buzzwords aren’t an argument
Eighth District U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber attempted to assure Minnesotans (“Let the compliance process do its job,” July 1) that all will be fine when Twin Metals begins its copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota. He says that with “modern mining technology, our family, friends and neighbors will safely mine these metals like they have iron ore for over 150 years.”
Stauber spattered his column with the same pro-mining claims — high-wage jobs, regulation compliance, independence — we’ve heard for years. He stated that “because northeastern Minnesota is our home ... we hold this project to the highest environmental standards in the world.” Sorry, Stauber, but words such as “family,” “friends,” “neighbors,” “home” and “standards” (just to pluck a few from your piece) don’t soothe my concerns over the potential, very real and very long-lasting negative environmental impacts this operation carries with it, especially since the permitting process contains many issues still in need of resolution.
There’s no doubt that these metals are important to the production of “smartphones, wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles,” and let’s hope that our country can soon make the shift from fossil fuels to these alternatives and others. Perhaps though, while we wait for President Donald Trump and his supporters in Congress to come to their energy senses, we can strive to strengthen our trade relationships with countries that might supply us with these needs.
Loren W. Brabec, Braham, Minn.
Warning: Political will required
We are dismayed that the editorial “Fair redistricting? It’s up to the people” (June 30) skips over the efforts by citizens and legislators who worked last session to get redistricting reform passed in Minnesota. There’s no mention of the actual bills that already have gained public support here.
The Iowa model involves legislative staff drawing electoral maps on behalf of the state legislators. The staff consults with a bipartisan commission appointed by legislative leaders. But this commission has no power except to hold three public meetings on the maps after they are drawn and then submit a nonbinding report to the Legislature.
There are reasons why such a model works well in Iowa with its pragmatic and engaged political culture, stable population, checkerboard counties and the great respect accorded Iowa’s nonpartisan Legislative Service Agency. But the fact remains that this method is still beholden to the Legislature, which can reject the maps or abolish the commission.
Meanwhile, “the people” get to wave at the process as it goes on without them.
Based on our experience talking to voters and Minnesota legislators, we don’t need more suggestions for more models from other states. We need political will — particularly in the Republican-controlled Senate, which put the clamps on all proposed electoral reform last session.
Neutral redistricting is indeed up to the people. Our task now, as before, is to get past the partisan incumbents in control of the process.
Charlie Quimby and Susan Cushman, Golden Valley
• • •
Writing for the majority in the recent gerrymandering case, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts declared that “federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties.” I’m no lawyer, but I thought that the crux of this case was whether or not to mandate the creation of a “more equal playing field” by declaring that egregious examples of gerrymandering were unconstitutional, with the understanding that non-gerrymandered legislative districts would better enable the electorate to reallocate political power between the parties.
What happens in the absence of such a mandate? The recent legislative session in Wisconsin provides an answer. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed a nonpartisan redistricting commission in his budget. Republicans, who control the Legislature (thanks to gerrymandering), removed it from the spending plan.
If the courts refuse to provide a remedy, and if gerrymandered legislatures are unlikely to provide one, then the Founding Fathers’ ideal of a government “by the people” looks increasingly like mere words on parchment.
Roger B. Day, Duluth, Minn.
We forgive other kinds of debt from ‘poor choices,’ so why not this one?
The writer of the commentary “When it comes to loans, whose debt is it, anyway?” (June 29) seems to be suffering from short-term memory loss in ranting that “having taxpayers cover college loan debt rewards poor choices.”
Wasn’t it just 2011 that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission issued its findings on the causes of the world financial meltdown of 2007-2008? Those causes included failures of corporate governance and risk management, excessive borrowing and risky investments. And, the commission’s report says, “From 1978 to 2007, the amount of debt held by the financial sector soared from $3 trillion to $36 trillion, more than doubling as a share of gross domestic product. “
Whose debt was that, anyway?
Today’s total of U.S. student debt is about $1.5 trillion, less than a tenth of the secret bailouts banks received as reward for their serial frauds, or if you prefer, poor choices.
At the very least, the Federal Reserve should just wave its invisible hand and write down interest rates on all student debt to match the effective bailout rates paid by the crooked banks; that is, a big, fat zero.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
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