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On April 2, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency hosted the first of three live telephone town hall meetings to allow public comment on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project that will cross northern Minnesota. The calls are being conducted in lieu of live comment periods that were to have occurred in Bemidji, Grand Rapids and Mahnomen before the COVID-19 outbreak.

On the call, MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop said that hundreds of comments had already been received by Minnesotans concerning the pipeline. She also acknowledged that many Minnesotans (including me) have questioned why the MPCA was not providing a significant extension of the comment period. Bishop’s explanation was that, per the federal Clean Water Act, Minnesota must meet a one-year action deadline or waive its right to enforce compliance with the state’s more rigid water quality standards.

This was news to me. It was also incredibly disheartening. I oppose Line 3, but beyond that specific issue I find it frustrating that at a time when the federal government is making numerous accommodations to purportedly help taxpayers and businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not budging on deadlines that interfere with states’ abilities to effectively seek the fullest and most informed public input on matters that are critical to all residents.

Line 3 poses many dangers to our state, and I hope Minnesotans will continue to weigh in at the MPCA’s two remaining telephone town hall meetings on April 7 and April 9. Beyond that, Minnesotans also need to recognize the responsibility of the federal government and ask our congressional delegation, Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison to petition federal authorities for an extension of the deadline mandated by the Clean Water Act.

Shannon Peterson, St. Paul

COVID-19 TESTING

Insurers show their cards

I was most pleased to read that many private health insurance schemes in Minnesota have agreed to forgo copays related to testing and treatment of COVID-19 (“Some virus costs to be waived,” April 3). This is a very responsible, public-spirited decision and thanks is due from the whole community.

It must also be realized that in doing so, the health care industry has tacitly admitted that copays are nothing more than artificial roadblocks to receiving care.

Thomas A. Beaumont, Minneapolis

CORONAVIRUS

We can’t act as if we know everything about it. We don’t.

I’m disappointed that your respected publication would print — ostensibly in the name of “balance” — an irresponsibly myopic and possibly dangerous opinion piece such as that offered up by John Lennes (“COVID-19 response ought to be less ax, more scalpel,” Opinion Exchange, March 29). Even as I was reading his stupefying contention about COVID-19, that “if you are younger and well, it almost surely will not [kill you],” the exponentially increasing death toll was including among its victims more people as young as the age of 20 ... and an infant in my hometown of Chicago. In short, still not enough is known about this novel coronavirus for non-health-care individuals such as Lennes to blithely make comparisons to conventional influenza.

Now is not the time for reliable sources of critical information such as yours to promote Chamber of Commerce cheerleading. Dealing with an unprecedented outbreak requires a big-picture, “all hands on deck” response — that includes the temporary, though painful, cessation of conducting business as usual.

Jesse Austin, Brooklyn Park

NEWS COVERAGE

Please, tamp down the panic

While I treasure my morning reading of the Star Tribune, I’m finding your front page headlines to be dramatic and overly alarming. I accept that the facts are facts and that of course our situation is grim, but your editors choose what to feature and how big of a font size. For example, last week’s headline screamed “Forecast: 100K-240K dead.” Then paragraph three clarified the statistic with a quote from Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force: “We really believe we can do a lot better than that.”

Please, editors, beware of your heightening of an already intense situation.

Laurie Casagrande, Minneapolis

TIMES OF CRISIS

No need for misleading metaphors

The language in Ron Feldman’s April 2 opinion piece (“Just like financial crisis, testing can save us”) is dangerously misleading. In seeking parallels between the coronavirus pandemic and the financial crisis of about 10 years ago, Feldman writes about a “contagious” risk that spread throughout the banking industry and made some banks “sick.”

But financial institutions didn’t get “sick” and need taxpayer bailouts because somebody sneezed in their face. They got “sick” because they were unethical, perfectly willing to give out bad loans as long as they got their cut and then passed the bad paper onto somebody else.

This pandemic is doing enough damage as it is. Let’s not make it even worse by using deceptive metaphors that hide blame and let bad actors, in this case irresponsible financial institutions, slide off the hook.

Steve Schild, Winona, Minn.

TRUMP

He avoided the worst choice. So?

A note to our president: The fact that you could have made worse decisions does not mean that the decisions you did make were good ones. Please use precious time and energy trying to save lives rather than trying to save your reputation.

Charles Morrill, Edina

EDUCATION

To new ‘techie’ teachers: Thanks

I read with special interest Nora Wise’s commentary in the April 1 Star Tribune titled “I’m a teacher, not a techie.” I am a retired high school teacher and can’t imagine what it would be like to present my courses online with two weeks’ notice after several decades of teaching them in a classroom setting.

Hats off to Wise for facing this formidable challenge with a positive, can-do attitude. She realizes that she needs to make significant changes right away to meet the needs of her 150 students and that she needs all the help she can get because she is not a “techie.” It is an “all hands on deck” moment that she must face head on, which she does with humility, hope and love to do the right things for her students.

I suspect that her students respect her enough so that any technological mistakes she makes will make little difference to them. Thank you for your service, Nora. America needs people like you now more than ever. Good luck.

John Crosby, Minneapolis

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