I’m responding to a pretty well-done Associated Press piece on Minnesota’s future energy sources, which discussed nuclear energy (“What’s Minnesota’s future of carbon-free, nuclear power?” July 27, StarTribune.com).
Nuclear power may well be in our future, but current technologies are insufficient and need to be replaced with more advanced technology. That advanced technology is indubitably untested, and while promising, it is simply impossible to deploy a large number of next-generation reactors in a short amount of time. Also, many of the promises made by nuclear advocates cannot actually be met by these advanced technologies; those promises are based on misconceptions or bad information, and sometimes wishful thinking.
Imagine we started with a large financial commitment of several tens of billions of dollars and ran two alternate scenarios. In one, we would build nuclear plants with that money, and in the other, a mix of wind turbines, solar thermal (which provides electricity at night), and other solar. Within 10 or 20 years that deployment of non-nuclear sources would be producing electricity and already paying for itself. At that point in the nuclear scenario, engineers would still be working on the technology, and perhaps two or three concept-testing, less-than-utility-scale plants might, or might not, be built.
Nuclear energy may well be part of our future, and research should continue. But the implication that nuclear has a chance of saving us from ourselves by quickly substituting for fossil fuels is wishful thinking.
Gregory Laden, Plymouth
ST. ANDREW’S CHURCH
Farewell to my local landmark
The news that the former St. Andrew’s Church will be razed by the Twin Cities German Immersion School is incredibly sad (“St. Andrew’s Church holds open house amid protest,” July 29). With all the knowledge and resources available today, you’d think progress of a publicly funded charter school could come without the destruction of a beautiful, unique, nearly 100-year-old landmark that’s important to the neighborhood. Once lost, a building like this can never be replaced. A historic building like this should be preserved.
Thank you to all who worked hard to try to save St. Andrew’s for our Como neighborhood and St. Paul.
Molly Rosenberg, St. Paul
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An article about the former St. Andrew’s Church in St. Paul (“Wrecking ball after an open house,” July 27) says that the Rev. John Forliti, a retired Catholic priest, lives in his childhood home across the street from the church. It also says that when the church was deconsecrated, workers removed the cross from its roof and moved it to his front yard.
Others may have thought of or proposed this idea already, but, Forliti and supporters of St. Andrew’s Church: Why not look into creating a kind of memorial and even a small interpretive center on Forliti’s property (with Forliti’s blessing) due to its proximity to the church site and due to the historical association he and his family had with the church? Perhaps this could be funded through philanthropy by families associated with the history of the church — like how much, if not all, of the new development at University of St. Thomas is being funded through philanthropy. Perhaps, even a single wealthy individual whose life has been blessed with prosperity could fund this. Forliti could perhaps serve on or as chair of a related advisory board. Or perhaps Forliti’s residence could be converted into this center or miniature museum in honor of St. Andrew’s church in perpetuity. Perhaps these tribute plans could be part of Forliti’s own legacy when he passes away. Just a suggestion.
Patrick Michael Redmond, St. Paul
Copy a compromise from up north
To the delight of outdoor enthusiasts there, Winnipeg, Canada, chooses to restrict vehicles on Sundays and holidays on a lovely thoroughfare much in character to our beloved Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis.
Perhaps this is the type of suggestion and compromise that can be put toward the ongoing issue of how best to satisfy the needs of both the city and parkway users (the original no-car proposal having been scaled back).
For Minnehaha Parkway, restricting autos on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays might make a lot of sense and is an idea worth trying out.
Steve Sitkoff, Minneapolis
‘IN GOD WE TRUST’
South Dakota misreads history in requiring national motto display
An ironic “F” in U.S. history goes to the South Dakota Republican legislators whose newly passed law mandates that “In God We Trust” appear prominently in all the state’s public schools beginning this fall (“S.D. requires public schools to display ‘In God We Trust,’ ” July 28). Contrary to what they claim, that maxim has nothing to do with the nation’s founding.
In fact, it became the official motto of the United States by an act of Congress only in 1956, more than 150 years after ratification of the Constitution at the height of the Cold War as the nation sought to distinguish itself from atheistic communism abroad. Historical context is crucial to understanding the past (and present), and absent the Cold War, the only national motto state legislators might be able to mandate on public school walls would be the de facto one of “E pluribus unum” (“Out of many, one”), adopted by an act of Congress in 1782 as part of the Great Seal of the new United States.
That would truly be reaffirming the founders, at least the ones of history rather than those of conservative legislators’ imaginations.
Gregory Kaster, St. Peter, Minn.
The writer is a history professor at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Why don’t gun rights activists want to protect their own image?
I have some acquaintances who care deeply about Second Amendment rights. In the wake of the recent shootings at the Gilroy (Calif.) Garlic Festival (“3 dead, more hurt at Garlic Fest in Calif.,” July 29), I had to wonder why anyone like them is not working harder to prevent or at least reduce the number of such shootings. So-called “liberals” are not the greatest threat to gun rights — unrestrained shooters are. No one would be calling for limitations on gun ownership or usage if we didn’t have so many mass shootings or other irresponsible uses of firearms.
It’s time that proponents of gun rights team up with their “unlikely bedfellows,” those who want greater gun safety, to create ideas that will allow both realities to occur. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.
David Rosene, Brooklyn Park
Trump’s sentiment isn’t unique
In terms of rhetoric, it’s hard to argue President Donald Trump isn’t a historical anomaly. No other president in recent memory, Democrat or Republican, has made as many racist and xenophobic remarks in such a short period of time.
But despite this, Trump is only a symptom of a much older problem in American politics. His language in the context of the presidency may be an anomaly, but the policies he advocates for — arguably far more important than his language — are not. Past presidents, though certainly less direct in their language, have often harmed communities of color under more abstract auspices. Although Trump’s recent language is shocking, it’s only the verbalization of decades of racially tinged policymaking. It’s important to keep that in mind even after this presidency ends.
Phillip Ableidinger, Plymouth