Thanks to the Star Tribune Editorial Board for alerting its readers to the recent Miami Herald story about what's currently taking place in Chile involving the owner/parent company of Twin Metals, Antofagasta. One can only hope that our state and federal legislators on both sides of the aisle take the opportunity to read the editorial, "A win for stewardship of Boundary Waters" (Oct. 25), because it's both critical and timely. Apparently, in Chile, a newly opened copper mine's obligations and accountability to address a direct environmental problem with respect to the flow of a nearby river suddenly became elusive. Yet, here we are, at the critical stage of deciding whether or not to allow Antofagasta to move ahead with an underground copper mine in the name of Twin Metals on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, taking the company at its word, with some degree of financial leverage, that it'll be the environmental stewards we need it to be.
One might assume that I'm just another vocal anti-mining person, jumping on the environmental bandwagon. On the contrary, I grew up on the Iron Range, the son of a mining engineer who spent his entire career employed in the taconite mining industry. I also worked in the taconite industry for six years myself. My father, who raised a family working in the industry, also had a deep passion for canoeing the border lakes, as he called them. He introduced me and my siblings to canoeing that area, and I've continued the tradition by taking canoe trips with my children and grandchildren. I truly believe that my father, if he were still alive, would place a higher value on the preservation of the border lakes over the risk of opening a copper mine on the edge of that unique wilderness. He would also recognize that the relatively safe process of mining taconite and iron ore on the Iron Range over the past 100 years or so does not necessarily translate to safe copper-nickel mining with its residual sulfide waste.
At the very least, let's uncover the findings of the study that the Trump administration chose to bury, determine why it was halted and complete the necessary study that was started.
Patrick Bloomfield, Chisholm, Minn.
Let's minimize their use
It's a good first step that the Environmental Protection Agency will require companies like 3M to disclose the use of PFAS in their products ("3M must disclose PFAS in products," Oct. 19), but it doesn't go far enough or fast enough. PFAS are a group of toxic chemicals and are building up in our bodies and the environment. They're impossible for consumers to avoid because they are used in hundreds of products. The EPA estimated there may be as many as 120,000 industrial sites in the U.S. alone where PFAS is handled. 3M's Decatur, Ala., settlement ("3M to pay $99 million to settle PFAS lawsuits in Ala.," Oct. 20) is just another example of the damage done to communities that manufacture these chemicals or use the chemicals in their products.
3M says PFAS is necessary for "lifesaving medical devices." Yes, that is true, but most products do not fall into that category. It's time to restrict PFAS to products that are needed for the health and safety of society and phase them out everywhere else. Maine passed a bill in July to do just that, and the European Union has also decided to phase out PFAS for all but essential items where an alternative is not available.
I welcome the opportunity to know which products contain PFAS chemicals, but I prefer that we stop contaminating our water, our bodies and the environment with "forever chemicals." Let's just stop making this stuff so we can be confident that our everyday purchases are PFAS-free.
Lori Olinger, North Oaks
On belief and consequences
OK, folks. We are Minnesotans, Midwesterners who know the value of hard work and perseverance, a belief in freedom of choice and a sense of personal responsibility. Saturday morning, a front-page article featured a now-deleted request from Sen. Mark Koran to help fund the defense of a Lindstrom family who participated in the Jan. 6 event at the Capitol of the United States ("State senator urging donations for family facing Jan. 6 charges," Oct. 23). He described them as a nice family, which is likely true, who like all of us are entitled to a public defense. Their fundraising page says their son served in the military, evidence of sacrifice and patriotism. But they participated in an action to prevent the election from being certified and in which some seemingly intended to do legislators harm. A family member refers to our present government as illegitimate, tyrannical. While these family members are free to express their views, they are not "free" to storm the Capitol and usurp the rights of others, to overturn an election.
We seem to be living in an era of passionate views on many topics, passion that casts a dark cloud obscuring the truth. While I don't write to address what "the truth" is or what it is not, I do write to address the issue of choice and responsibility. This issue seems to pervade many topics — vaccines, masks, what we say, how we behave and how we treat other people. Those choices are our choices. We choose what we do, what we say, how we treat others. Individual rights, free choice and the courage to express and act on our beliefs rest on the foundation of personal responsibility. Acting on our beliefs does not give us a free pass to act in a way that harms others or robs them of their choices.
Our republic and our democracy are at stake. In this era of passion and free choice, we must protect it. We — all of us — must start speaking out, must shed the cloak of politeness and passivity under the umbrella of respecting free speech. We need to use our voices to sing the praises of our imperfect nation, to express gratitude for what we have and to find areas of agreement with those with whom we disagree. As Americans, as citizens who love our country, we still have much in common. We may need to rewind to the Golden Rule. It's a place to start.
Susan Kaercher Meyers, Hudson, Wis.
Can't Water Works inspire?
An urban miracle has indeed been achieved with the Water Works Park and Pavilion honoring history and providing a welcoming place to gather — including at the magnificent Owamni restaurant. Kudos to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and others for their vision. It is everything Minneapolis aspires to be: people-friendly, artistic and preserving Indigenous culture.
In contrast, the Nicollet Mall has become a wasteland. There are closed shops and restaurants, and it's not at all people-friendly due to the refusal to remove buses. Let's apply the same wizardry to the Mall: a pedestrian-only walkway that's family-friendly with outdoor cafes and sitting areas that would revive the all-but-dead retail and restaurant scene. It could be resurrected in the image of La Rambla in Barcelona, the High Line in New York or the Riverwalk in San Antonio (maybe with street cameras for added safety).
Let's have a second urban miracle and bring the mall back to its former glory. Right now it is hanging on by a thread.
We need visionaries to lead the way!
Pamela Kearney, Edina
Thanks to the Star Tribune for the article about the revitalization of downtown Albert Lea ("Albert Lea invests in its downtown, and it pays off," Oct. 23). Living outside big cities in a town with easy access to major metropolitan areas often has social, aesthetic and financial benefits. Albert Lea sits among five lakes at the intersection of Interstates 35 and 90, about an hour south of Twin Cities southern suburbs, and a couple hours west of La Crosse, north of Des Moines and east of Sioux Falls. With today's work-from-home options, some city folks might want to consider chucking urban life and moving to a pretty little place that has a footprint of only 14 square miles and a nice downtown.
Joan Claire Graham, Albert Lea, Minn.
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