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The recent article "City, groups split over 2040 Plan" (front page, Feb. 20) convincingly debunks Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's declaration that "the smartest minds in the world" could not possibly determine the impact on the environment of a comprehensive plan, but rather, that only individual plans should be so evaluated. The article names Moorhead and Seattle as examples of cities that in fact have such evaluations in place for decades and view them as extremely useful and important.

In addition, the article mentions that Jack Perry, lawyer for Smart Growth Minneapolis and Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds (the groups suing for an environmental study of the city's 2040 Plan) noted a 2018 podcast where former City Council President Lisa Bender, a huge proponent of the plan, said that "we probably would have been [prevented] from voting on our plan" if "we would have had to do an environmental impact assessment."

One has to wonder, indeed, why the city would spend untold numbers of hours and taxpayers' dollars resisting doing an evaluation if its leaders thought the results would support their claim that the plan is environmentally sound? Why would they, as I read some months ago in the judge's statement regarding the city's response to the lawsuit, refuse to even comment on the concerns brought by the plaintiffs? And why would they then hire the consulting firm Stantec to perform an environmental study and then refuse to give any information about exactly what the firm is doing, not to mention how much it costs? Finally, one has to wonder why the city and the mayor would rather weaken the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA), one of the strongest environmental protection laws in the region — if not the strongest such law — rather than simply perform this study and use it to mitigate potential problems before they develop and become irreversible? How do we not interpret such stonewalling as an indication that the City Council and the mayor know, as Bender admitted, that this plan in its current form will not pass a thorough and responsible environmental evaluation?

Frey declares that those of us who want to stop this proposed law are "weaponizing" environmental laws. One might well ask who, in fact, is doing the weaponizing? Those asking for this reasonable review or those doing everything they can to avoid it?

I participated to the best of my ability, as a Minneapolis resident with no special connections or power, in the decisionmaking process regarding Minneapolis 2040. Efforts to propose modifications that would mitigate some of the potential environmental and other negative impacts of the plan — even, for example, those proposed by Alissa Luepke Pier, then vice president of the Minneapolis Planning Commission — were generally dismissed, and those who proposed them were treated to ad hominem attacks by city officials and other supporters of the plan.

Now, rather than listen to the courts that have already ruled against it twice or, heaven forbid, actually address the environmental concerns brought forth by the plaintiffs, the city continues to stonewall and even tries to change state law rather than credibly examining the potential impact of their own policies and rationales.

As we all know, the unprecedented high temperatures here in Minnesota and elsewhere this winter, not to mention the enormous fires, devastating floods and huge storms that become more frequent and dangerous every year, make clear that we are experiencing climate change at an extremely rapid pace — a pace that no one predicted. This changing situation calls for a comprehensive scientific evaluation regarding the impact of Minneapolis land-use policies on the environmental and climatic resilience of our city. It is certainly not a time to refuse to complete or acknowledge environmental assessments in favor of scoring ideological points and/or shorter-term economic gain.

Tamara L. Kaiser lives in Minneapolis.