Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


Regarding Xcel's plans for a big EV charging network ("Xcel EV charger plan ignites opposition," front page, March 5), it's not useful to apply personal economic logic to critique and thus completely miss the community and statewide economic benefits.

Remember three years ago at the beginning of COVID when gasoline was $1.85 per gallon because demand had dropped? The same logic applies when 10-30% of cars are EVs. It is gas-car owners who will benefit the most from rapid adoption of EVs.

Almost all of my charging (over 95%) occurs at night when electric utilities have excess capacity. With a larger installed base of EVs, the utilities' fixed costs will be spread out over a larger volume of sales to EV owners, reducing all ratepayers' costs.

At $3.30 per gallon, Minnesota burns about $11 billion a year of gasoline. If cars were entirely electrified, the electric bill would be less than $2 billion. A one-time $200 million investment to drive us toward saving $9 billion every year that remains in the local economy is an astounding opportunity. We could eliminate the vehicle sales tax, pay for road infrastructure, buy wind turbines, strengthen our utility network and their distribution lines, even provide a $10,000 rebate per EV, and still have money left over to provide an immediate positive cash flow for EV owners, gas car owners and utility ratepayers.

Philip Adam, Plymouth


Owners of fossil-fuel vehicles pay for their fuel at gas stations. EV owners pay their electric utility when they plug in their cars at home. When EV owners need a recharge away from home they should have access to rapid charging stations. The providers of the charging stations should be able to collect fees (and make a profit) when an EV is recharged. If Xcel wants to build rapid charging stations, great, as long as the cost is borne by the charging station users, not all ratepayers.

Louise Hokenson, Minnetonka


It is irresponsible for the Star Tribune Editorial Board (March 10) to conclude its assessment of Xcel Energy's proposal with the quote "There has to be a better way to pay for this" without suggesting what that better way would be. It certainly isn't to require current EV owners to pay for the complete build-out of a charging network that will service a much larger fleet of EVs over the next 20 years. It also isn't to wait another decade or two while entrepreneurs enter the market at the current glacial pace and with large gaps in statewide coverage. Xcel Energy produced a viable proposal, and it is incumbent on critics to propose reasonable alternatives.

Les Everett, Falcon Heights


The root cause of trouble

The March 5 editorial "Vital signs poor at Minnesota hospitals" rightly recognizes the "alarming operating losses of hospitals" and even notes the issue: "Delayed-discharge patients represent 22% of patients hospitalized in Minnesota during a given week."

But the Star Tribune Editorial Board's solution — grants to hospitals — overlooks the real root cause of the issue.

Our state's caregiver shortage, specifically at nursing homes, is the real significant crisis that is impacting care. Because the Legislature directly sets the hourly wages for nursing home caregivers (starting wages are approximately $16 an hour) through reimbursement rates, nursing homes are simply cannot attract the needed staff. Which means they can't accept new residents, and that impacts access to health care for every Minnesotan, no matter the setting in which they are seeking care.

The real solution: Provide a direct rate increase for nursing home caregivers to increase wages. Invest in Medicaid waivers to ensure high wages not only in nursing homes but all long-term care settings. Sen. John Hoffman and Rep. Heather Edelson are sponsoring legislation to ensure seniors have access to the long-term care they need, when and where they need it.

Increased access will lead to benefits across our system. Seniors will transition out of hospitals into long-term care, saving on costs and opening hospital space for others in need. And that will benefit all Minnesotans — regardless of age — who need care from our health care providers.

Barb Klick and Kari Thurlow

Barb Klick is president and CEO of Sholom, with several senior living facilities in the Twin Cities. Kari Thurlow is president and CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota.


Farmers are proactive

A recent front-page article ("Nitrate pollution limit 10 years late," March 5) fails to note that Minnesota's corn farms — almost all of which are family-run — are proactively addressing nitrogen management.

Through the Minnesota corn check-off program, corn growers invest millions of dollars each year into research projects at entities like the University of Minnesota that improve nutrient use efficiency. These investments have allowed researchers to determine optimal application rates, timing, and other practices that increase in-season nitrogen uptake. Additionally, corn growers partner with University of Minnesota Extension on the Nitrogen Smart education program, which provides information on best practices to hundreds of farmers annually. Corn growers also invest in farmer-led, on-farm research projects that explore methods to increase nutrient use efficiency, leveraging farmer ingenuity.

Finally, the article blames — in part — tile drainage for pollution. Tile drainage improves nutrient uptake and enables farmers to implement conservation practices like cover crops and reduced tillage that keep nutrients in the field, where they offer the most benefit. Tile drainage is not only critical for crop growth, given variabilities in climate, soils and typography, but is an essential tool for farmers to manage water most efficiently when paired with conservative practices to limit nutrient loss.

Corn farmers strive to optimally use inputs, increasing yields without a significant corresponding increase in fertilizer use. It's in no one's interest to be wasteful with nutrients or any inputs, especially given the profound impact inflation has had on operating costs. Minnesota farmers continue to take steps toward sustainably and efficiently produce a healthy crop each year.

Doug Albin, Clarkfield, Minn.

The writer is chair of the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council.


What isn't the problem

D.J. Tice clearly has concerns about the state of America's young people. He uses survey results to describe the dismal world of today's teenagers ("Something isn't right — just ask the kids," March 5). Two of his three areas of concern are certainly disturbing: declining mental health (increased rates of depression and suicide) and decreased perceptions of safety (particularly at home and school).

Sandwiched between is Tice's concern about "student's sexual lives." He quotes surveys showing fewer students are identifying as heterosexual and more students are questioning their gender identity. Tice appears to view an increase of teenagers identifying as LGBTQ equally distressing as a rise in teen suicides and worries about guns in school. He says, "Something isn't right. Our children are frightened, confused and depressed." They may be frightened and depressed, but they aren't confused, at least not in a bad way.

Teens today are much more comfortable identifying as LGBTQ because they've finally gotten the messages that it's OK to be who you are and there is nothing wrong with you if you don't identify as heterosexual. LGBTQ teens who are comfortable enough with themselves to truthfully answer survey questions probably have better mental health. They feel safer because society is more accepting of LGBTQ people today. Why isn't Tice celebrating that good news?

Questioning one's gender identity doesn't necessarily mean a teenager wants to change their gender. Historically we've pushed boys and girls into narrowly defined gender roles. Thanks to positive messaging, teens are comfortable enough with themselves to think outside the box of confining gender roles. They might be "confused," but now they feel comfortable working it out by being true to themselves which leads, again, to better mental health and a feeling of safety. That's a win-win, Mr. Tice.

Ironically, Tice quotes survey results that LGBTQ teens have the highest suicide rates. Maybe that's because people like Tice send out the message that an increase in teens identifying as LGBTQ is bad and we need to do something about it.

Steve Millikan, Minneapolis