Looking for solutions in all the wrong places

Harry Melander and William Blazar wrote March 25 in favor of the pipeline expansion, concluding that “the ultimate choice is whether we follow the advice of groups like Greenpeace and turn back the clock to the days of OPEC dominance and less efficient use of our natural resources, or increase America’s jobs, economic and energy security.”

Truly, the ultimate choice is to address the effects of climate change that caused $41 billion in weather-related disasters in 2013, as announced Monday by the U.N. weather agency. The ultimate solution to increase America’s jobs, and economic and energy security, and to mitigate massive weather-related costs is renewable energy. We cannot postpone the inevitable much longer.

Mike Menzel, Edina

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From a recent news report: Federal environmental officials now estimate that more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil — double the initial estimates — leaked from a pipeline into a nature preserve in southwest Ohio.

And from the last few years:

• The Tesoro Logistics LP pipeline spill was the biggest leak in North Dakota since 1 million barrels of saltwater brine, a byproduct of oil production, leaked from a well site in 2006.

• Exxon Mobil’s Mayflower pipeline ruptured in a suburban neighborhood in Arkansas, forcing residents from homes. It spilled some 5,000 to 7,000 barrels of heavy crude from Canada.

• Enbridge shut its 345,000-barrel-per-day Athabasca pipeline after 1,400 barrels of oil spilled in northeast Alberta.

• Exxon Mobil’s Silvertip pipeline leaked 1,500 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone River after heavy flooding in the region.

• Enbridge’s 41-year-old 6B pipeline ruptured in Michigan, leaking 19,500 barrels of crude.

Melander and Blazar state that they are not experts in pipeline engineering. Nor am I. But from the evidence I routinely read, it appears pipelines clearly are not safe.

Bryan Haugen, Mayer



We ought to be welcoming turbines

Let’s face the facts:

1) Energy needs will continue to increase.

2) It is estimated that 33 percent of electrical energy generation is lost during transmission to the end user. That loss, according to Xcel Energy (which has a 17,000-megawatt total generating capacity) is enough energy to serve an estimated 4.2 million homes.

3) New technologies such as those planned by Altaeros Energies (“Wind turbines are going higher for power,” March 24) will not be developed if local ordinances restrict innovative new energy applications by city administrators because of “not in my back yard” sentiments.

We need progressive, innovative planning commissioners who will consider energy needs in housing, plotting (energy gardens or playgrounds) and industrial centers.

It’s time we demand: Put it in my back yard.

Jim Thompson, Excelsior



With Russia, we must ‘walk and chew gum’

The March 25 editorial “Losing sleep over Russia and nuclear proliferation,” laid out the importance of the U.S.-Russian relationship, despite Crimea. However, Russian aggression in Crimea has caused some experts to believe all U.S.-Russian cooperation is DOA.

Yet, nuclear inspections under the New START treaty continue.

Nearly 50 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons have been shipped for destruction under the agreed U.S.-Russian framework.

On the multilateral talks to control Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian foreign minister is “optimistic about July 20” and having an agreement before the diplomatic deadline.

Together, the United States and Russia have been able to secure dangerous nuclear materials, minimize proliferation, reduce the number of nuclear weapons that could instantly target U.S. cities and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, thereby enhancing U.S. and global security.

Throughout the Cold War and since, the United States and Russia have worked cooperatively on issues of mutual interest. While Russian actions in Crimea are unacceptable, we cannot put other security interests in jeopardy just to make the point.

Like walking and chewing gum, we must continue to engage with Russia on matters of mutual interest, while continuing to deal with the situation in Crimea.

Lt. Gen. (retired) Robert Gard, Arlington, Va.


The writer is the chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the former president of National Defense University.



Solvency really isn’t a wage cap away

The March Letter of the Day (“Social Security is simple; Medicare is the harder fix”) quoted data that are now factually wrong.

The writer cited a study from 2010, which was based on data from 2009. Since that time, Social Security has lost about 10 years of solvency. Data from 2009 are irrelevant at best. More recently, the Social Security Administration released a study that said the elimination of the cap on the wage tax would deal with 72 percent of the shortfall over a 75-year window.

The deterioration in the results betrays a structural problem with Social Security. Every year we replace low-shortfall years with high-shortfall years in the 75-year window. So here is what the writer is really proposing: We should divert $10 trillion away from debt control so that we can make the problem of boomers a larger problem for millennials.

Brenton Smith, Marietta, Ga.