I hope that Minnesotans paid attention to the article a couple weeks ago about the 1,200-year drought happening out West, because we are a big part of the problem ("Drought in western U.S. is worst in 12 centuries," Feb. 15).

Winter gets hard the older you get — something I hate to admit, but there it is. Last winter I gave in to the lure of being a snowbird for a few weeks, and I loved it, hiking in the Arizona warmth with not an icy patch in site. Glorious. But as a committed environmentalist, and the future grandmother to two little girls due to arrive soon who need a healthy planet to live on, I can't help but cringe now. I stayed in a house with a pool and a sprinkler system and was surrounded by more of the same. We all had our cars, traffic was intense and the pollution was visible. The new construction for vacation homes went right up against the state and national parks. Arizona is being filled in and irrigated by people fleeing winter.

Of course, agriculture plays a huge role, but we can't deny that our unwillingness to deal with the inconvenience of winter is putting the Southwest and the world at risk by tearing up the desert ecosystem, using water where we shouldn't and exacerbating global warming in the process.

Lenore Kathleen Millibergity, Minneapolis


I am writing in response to the article "Feds halt new drilling in climate change battle" (Feb. 21) and feel strongly that we must not overlook the cost of carbon on public land projects. Much more must be done to slash our nation's greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and meet Biden's goal of avoiding 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. Halting fossil fuel production on federal public lands — which accounts for 25% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — is a crucial part of achieving this goal.

The Willow project is a massive proposal that would have unprecedented effects on the state of U.S. federal lands. It proposes the extraction of over 590 million barrels of oil over 30 years, which would produce more CO2 than 56 million cars emit in one year. This project would be carried out on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the biggest piece of public land in the country. Not only would this proposal be devastating to the caribou, geese, loons, salmon, polar bears and wolves supported by this land, but it would also cause damages to several Alaska Native communities.

There is currently an open public comment period until March 9, so it is important to let our elected officials know that we cannot allow this proposal to go forward. Furthermore, we must call on President Joe Biden to deliver on his climate promises and say no to approving the Willow project.

Ellie Krueger, Minneapolis

The writer is an intern at Alaska Wilderness League.


A different direction for 'hero pay'

It could be argued that teachers are the front-line workers for our future. Many of our education workers are stressed to the limit, and resignations are rampant. With teachers and support staff at two of Minnesota's largest school districts intending to strike, the Legislature has an opportunity to initiate real change to improve this future. The $1 billion that the Legislature intends to give as bonuses to "front-line workers" ought to be dedicated to the public education system in this state.

The federal government has pushed out trillions of dollars to shore up individuals and the economy since the pandemic began. The folly to fairly decide who deserves bonuses stalled the effort in the Legislature last summer and last fall. Quadrupling the $250 million then deemed for "hero pay" does not solve the problem. In this election year, insisting on doling out these bonuses smacks of vote buying. This largesse could be a significant catalyst for change if spent on a system that could make this good state even better.

As the national and international response to COVID-19 has proven, this is a time for bold actions to better the greater good. Nothing benefits the greater good more than improvements in our public educational system. Seize this opportunity, legislators, and wisely spend this taxpayer money to improve Minnesota's future.

Richard Cousins, Edina


In the March 1 front-page story "Minn. projects $9.3B surplus," GOP Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller made the following comment concerning one-time payments to essential workers (legislation passed last session without resolution): He doesn't want to be "pitting one neighbor against another" by providing bonuses to front-line workers.

Thus, another example of the Republican Party's negative mind-set when it comes to promoting legislation to better the lives of working Minnesota families.

Whether it's the party's assault on masking, the vaccine, public education, policing, voting rights or the LGBTQ community, divisiveness and fear seem to always dominate its conversation. Unwittingly, in the end, the GOP itself does in fact pit "one neighbor against another."

As a taxpaying Minnesotan, I celebrate our front-line workers: teachers and aides, cooks and cashiers, nurses and long-term care providers, bus drivers and transit workers who braved unheard-of conditions to keep our state safely running during the pandemic.

To not celebrate their accomplishments is to suggest they were not even worth the effort.

Don Leathers, Austin, Minn.


Each night, more than 6,000 Minnesota young people are without a home. It is a heartbreaking fact that young people experiencing homelessness are statistically more likely to experience poverty, abuse, racism and homophobia — destabilizing traumas that can last into adulthood.

Last year, Catholic Charities Hope Street Shelter for Youth supported 360 Hennepin County young people seeking shelter. Along with a safe place to sleep, we provide food, clothing and medical care while trying to de-escalate the homelessness crisis at hand, helping people get back to a more stable foundation. While we only have a short time with them, we provide as much support as possible to prevent homelessness from becoming their future. Unfortunately, we are forced to turn away almost 1,000 young people each year because we lack resources to support them.

Minnesota must do better. The Homeless Youth Act is a proven investment to address the state's youth homelessness crisis. It supports young people who would otherwise go to large single-adult shelters or stay on the streets, and it offers providers like us the flexibility to tailor services to the unique needs of young people. Like other investments in the state's shelter system, however, funding has not met the scale of the urgent situation.

With the budget surplus, Minnesota has an opportunity to make bold investments to disrupt trends in homelessness. The Homeless Youth Act is one of them, and by supporting the most vulnerable in our community, we can all help architect a future of stability and opportunity for thousands of homeless young people.

Keith Kozerski, Minneapolis

The writer is senior division director of Children & Family Services at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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