University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has announced he is moving forward with renaming a few campus buildings. As two former members of the now-terminated Women’s Athletic Advisory Committee, we recommend renaming Coffman Union after former U women’s athletic director Chris Voelz, for many reasons.
From 1988 to 2002, Voelz provided inspiring leadership and a management model that made us proud. At a time when women athletic directors were greatly outnumbered by men, Voelz stood out as a leader and paved the way for creating opportunities for collegiate women in sports. She transformed the department into the gem of the university: women student athletes had 25 semesters of a 3.0 GPA or higher; increased the number of endowed scholarships for women from 1 to 25; hosted seven NCAA national championships; managed a $10.9 million athletics budget with a staff of more than 80 employees; and oversaw the design and raising of $16 million to build four sports facilities, which included the Jean Freeman Aquatics Center, the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium (for soccer), the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium (for softball), the Ridder Arena/Baseline Tennis Center, and the conversion of the old Williams Arena into the Pavilion, for women’s volleyball and gymnastics teams.
Voelz dedicated herself to helping women athletes find their voice, identity and pride without an incident of scandal. In naming the student center after her, we would be celebrating a stellar female leader who brought excellence, equality and integrity to the university.
Priscilla Lord, St. Louis Park, and ANN BARKELEW O’HAGAN, Sunfish Lake
Augmenting the goal, being wary of consequences and costs, celebrating the new scenery
Thank you to the Star Tribune Editorial Board for “Time to move ahead with clean energy” (March 7). The need to transition to clean, sustainable energy sources is becoming more obvious every day. The question is how to achieve that goal nationwide.
I hope the Editorial Board will also endorse the most practical first step: putting a price on carbon and returning a dividend to all families. France learned the hard way that a carbon fee alone is not acceptable, but Canada has enacted Carbon Fee and Dividend, and the population is already receiving rebates before the plan increases their fuel costs. HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, proposes just such a plan for the U.S., and I urge everyone to learn about and support it. It’s a practical, free-market approach to a difficult problem.
Cathy Ruther, St. Paul
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When I read the editorial, I was drawn to the last paragraph describing Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s and state policy leaders’ vision and guts in 2006. Despite massive opposition and fear, we exceeded the 25 percent renewable-energy target, meeting it eight years early in 2018! Gov. Tim Walz’s proposal is no more visionary or revolutionary than was Pawlenty’s. The fossil-fuel industry is already marshaling its battalions of lobbyists and editorialists to sow fear and doubt that this goal is attainable. We need to be on the right side of history: protecting a healthier future for our kids and generating 100 percent of Minnesota energy needs at the local level, with wind, solar and nuclear options. I look forward to a repeat of visionary leadership.
Polly Anderesen, Wayzata
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Finally, a study has been published (“Ethanol rule worsening pollution?” March 8) that looks at the benefits of the ethanol mandate. It never made sense to use valuable farmland to “grow fuel” when crude oil is in abundant supply. Presently, one out three rows of corn or soybeans is earmarked for the ethanol plant. A bit hard to justify when there are many starving throughout the world. Gas and diesel engines have lower emissions despite ethanol. Any percent of ethanol does lower mileage, as numerous studies report. The piece zeros in on the unintended consequences of additional carbon production, massive tons of fertilizer use, and loss of wetland habitat, which results in decreased pollinators.
Considering all this, how will Gov. Walz’s ambitious “green energy 2050 plan” result in its own list of unintended consequences? For example, what pressure will land, dedicated to massive solar arrays plus numerous wind farms, have on agricultural production? Can two Minnesota nuclear plants increase their capacity beyond the present 30 percent of demand? It is one thing to make a bold proclamation, but it is quite another to deliver it in a responsible manner.
Joe Polunc, Cologne
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I am an Xcel Energy customer who has lived at my current address for more than 15 years. As fate would have it, my March bill arrived last Monday. I noted the change in my “Electricity Cost” (per kilowatt-hour) went up 11.89 percent from last year to this year. Note: My Social Security payment did not go up 11.89 percent, nor did my retirement check, nor did my investment income during the same period.
The Star Tribune news article on Walz’s plan (“Walz sets 2050 carbon-free goal,” March 5) also stated “Xcel emphasized that the state needs to move forward in a way that doesn’t raise customer’s bills.” And, further, that the “full cost of implementing the changes in Walz’s proposal was not yet clear.” What is clear to me is that Xcel has not held down the cost of energy to Minnesota customers. And, the new governor admits that he doesn’t know what his proposal will cost. I ask, “What could possibly go wrong on the way to achieving this goal?”
P.S. I am still waiting for my new driver’s license, applied for and paid for on Dec. 11, 2018.
Dennis L. Sellke, Minnetonka
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The goal of Minnesota achieving 100 percent carbon-free energy production by 2050 is achievable, and is one that we at Prairie Restorations Inc. heartily support.
Roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar both provide silent and clean energy all year, and PV panels are most efficient in cold temperatures. When local governing units require native pollinator friendly habitat as the vegetation beneath ground-mounted solar as a condition of the building permit, the local community wins in many ways.
We have employees across this state, including our offices in Scandia, Watertown and Northfield, who will benefit from good-paying jobs installing and managing native pollinator-friendly (flowering) habitat at ground-mounted solar arrays. Many earnest solar developers are already investing in improving Minnesota’s soil, water and critical habitat when utilizing native vegetation. Nearly 60,000 Minnesotans are employed in the clean energy and efficiency sectors, and our state’s clean-energy industry is growing twice as fast as the rest of our economy.
The presence of a large expanse of solar panels is a new sight to most of us in our communities, yet these solar arrays are silent, clean and quiet neighbors. If the arrays are planted with native habitat for vegetation, they help us improve our community’s soil and water quality, provide forage for native butterflies and insects, honeybees, songbirds and game birds, all while producing nonpolluting energy.
We encourage you to support native pollinator-friendly solar in Minnesota for all the good it offers us.
Colleen Hollinger, Princeton, Minn.