Endangered plants located within Minnesota’s 135,000-plus miles of public road right-of-ways will soon be legally subject to steamrollers, graders and mowers, without consequence, if a proposed law is passed by the Minnesota Legislature this session. For this, thank the Minnesota County Engineers Association and Association of Minnesota Counties, whose intractable persistence steamrolled all opposition, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The county engineers said they needed to “clarify” Minnesota’s endangered species law, which they claim already exempts roadways and ditches. However, the purported “clarification” actually expands the exemption to the entire right-of-way, including back slopes and medians. Delay and costs are claimed as reasons but are not adequately explained.
This huge step backward is contrary to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ recent report, which found that nearly 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.
The Minnesota County Engineers Association and the Association of Minnesota Counties are on the wrong side of history by continuing to advocate for a road right-of-way exemption from the state endangered species law. Minnesotans must advocate to the Legislature to protect endangered plants and repeal the road right-of-way exemption.
Thomas E. Casey, Mound, Minn., and Scott A. Milburn, St. Paul
The writers are board member and president, respectively, of the Minnesota Native Plant Society.
Trump is not the loser here. It’s us.
I have once again listened as the president of the United States stood publicly before the American people and made an appalling statement (“Trump shuts down,” May 23). He demanded that Congress stop all its constitutionally mandated and sanctioned oversight or he, the U.S. president, will do absolutely nothing legislatively in working with Congress. He demanded that elected-by-the-people congressional members ignore their oath of office just as he has ignored his sworn oath to uphold the laws of this land.
As a child of the 1960s, as a young woman observing President Richard Nixon fulfill his duties as president during the Watergate investigations into his corrupt administration, and then as a middle-aged woman watching as President Bill Clinton carried on his presidential obligations in honoring his sworn oath of office as he was impeached by the House members, I say to President Donald Trump that this stand is the most egregious of all your many inept stances.
Who are the real losers? Although you constantly believe it is so, it is not you, Mr. President. The American voters, taxpayers, workers — all the citizens of this country, despite political leanings, are the losers.
You will do nothing?! Outrageous and completely shameful! The 240 years of U.S. history in defending against autocracy deserves to be better served!
Claudia O’Neill, Burnsville
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During Trump’s recent Rose Garden statement he complained in disbelief that the Democrats are using the “I-word” towards him. Which “I-word”? Insane? Incompetent? Inept? Imbecilic? Incorrigible? Inexorable? Implacable? Ineffective? Incompliant? Inexpert? Impeach? All of the above?
Doug Williams, Robbinsdale
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The main headline from May 22 (“McGahn no-show, Dems furious,” front page) wants us to know that Democrats are furious. Hasn’t this been the case since Nov. 9, 2016?
Jeff Johnson, Brooklyn Park
A carbon fee and dividend is best
While it is excellent news that Xcel Energy has a plan to go carbon-free by 2050, I have to agree with the recent counterpoint (“Stop greenwashing the greed of local corporations,” May 23) that it will not be soon enough. Climate change is accelerating at an alarming rate, but I am still hopeful that we can bend the curve and avoid the most devastating effects. We need to make big changes, but the huge question looms: How? There is growing consensus that a price on carbon would be an effective method for rapidly changing our consumption of fossil fuels. A price on carbon would promote greater energy efficiency and the use of lower-carbon options, giving a big jump start to our transition away from burning fossil fuels.
But won’t higher energy prices hurt the economy, and fall especially hard on the poor? We’ve seen what happened when France tried to raise gas prices; there was rioting in the streets.
The solution is a carbon fee and dividend. CF&D would collect a fee on all sources of CO2 pollution (oil, gas and coal), and give that money back to individual households as a dividend. This eases the transition to cleaner energy sources for people who can least afford it, and the money will actually improve the economy. An economic analysis done by Regional Economic Models, Inc., a company that has done analyses for both government bodies and fossil fuel companies, predicts that CF&D would add 2.8 million jobs above baseline over 20 years, due to the stimulus of the dividend. And over that same 20 years we would see a 50% reduction in carbon emissions below 1990 levels. Other studies, including a recent one by MIT, have confirmed this analysis.
What is needed now is for people to learn about the carbon fee and dividend. The U.S. House already has a bipartisan bill collecting sponsors. Let’s tell our elected officials at all levels that we support it.
Cathy Ruther, St. Paul
U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL
Honesty is not too much to ask
I was disheartened by the somewhat condescending generalizations of a reader submission regarding Attorney General William Barr (“Curb the myths about Barr’s role,” May 21). Many do happen to believe we should expect more of our attorney general; certainly, not simply to serve at the president’s “pleasure.” Omissions, out-of-context responses, no response, or misleading statements to alter the perception of a report he personally does not like all reflect a breach of the trust he assured our elected officials he would bring to this very important position.
We do not expect a “people’s lawyer” or “champion,” as the writer wrongly assumes. We just expect unvarnished honesty, which does not smack of a cover-up of a (soon to be exposed) crisis of confidence in our top leadership. History tells us the truth is easier to continue to support than falsehoods.
Gene Hanf, Deephaven
Take ill fast-food workers seriously
I was deeply troubled to read a recent article about sick time (“Rallying around sick-time law,” May 23). Not only does the article describe flagrant violations of the law and employees’ rights, but this situation is a public health disaster waiting to happen. If fast-food workers are obligated to work while sick, customers are put at risk of catching and spreading those illnesses.
Food poisoning is unpleasant at best and can be deadly in children, seniors and immunocompromised people. Depending on the pathogen, food poisoning can cause kidney failure and even paralysis. I hope that employers and policymakers will take this issue seriously, if not on behalf of the workers, then on behalf of everyone who consumes fast food.
Helen Risser, Edina