In 2005, when Minneapolis piloted a speed camera test, a camera was installed in view of my office at the intersection of 2nd Avenue N. and N. 3rd Street. Prior to camera activation, high speeds were customary, especially during afternoon drive when drivers raced to beat the light to enter Interstate 94 at that intersection. After four to six weeks of camera operation, speeds dropped markedly and racing to beat the red light declined accordingly. Many of our building's tenants cheered the change because we were also pedestrians at that intersection. Pre-camera, I vividly remember standing on the corner at the end of the day staring at a green "walk" light but reluctant to step into the street in fear of being hit by a speeder.
In my experience, the camera on N. 3rd Street worked perfectly. I don't know how many vehicles it ticketed, but drivers definitely got the message and significantly adjusted their speed downward. Where the pilot fell short was in ticketing the driver, not the vehicle owner. In my judgment, the vehicle owner should be responsible for all uses and misuses of his/her vehicle. It makes no sense to have two sets of rules for the same vehicle — ticketing my vehicle for nonmoving violations, but ticketing the driver of my vehicle for moving violations. I should be liable in both cases.
I applaud Minneapolis's current proposal to test cameras — again — to enforce speed limits on city streets. I urge the Legislature to approve this request. This pilot program should be extended to city highways as well, where extremely high speeds and reckless driving are commonplace and shockingly accepted.
Sandra Nelson, Minneapolis
Think bigger than an order shakeup
The Star Tribune Sunday editorial advocated changing the order of the presidential primaries to make it more representative of U.S. demographics ("End the kingmaking in Iowa and N.H.," Nov. 27). This approach still leaves in place the biggest flaw in our methods of choosing general election candidates, which is the partisan primary system. In the current system, less than 10% of each party, which are typically the most left- or right-wing members, chooses the candidates for the general election.
The best answer, in my opinion, is to adopt the approach Alaska uses. Their approach is a single nonpartisan primary where the top four vote-getters move to the general electron, which is ranked-choice. This method could be easily used for all state and federal offices, with the exception of the president. For the office of the president, a series of nonpartisan regional primaries could be used to pick the top four candidates for the general election.
This approach would eliminate the partisan nature of primaries, which allow a small minority to choose candidates for the general election, and those candidates would have broader support.
It is noteworthy that Alaska's method was chosen using a ballot initiative, not by the two parties coming together and identifying a method to get broader voter representation when choosing candidates for the general election. A ranked choice of four candidates ensures a majority approves of the election winner and is a manageable number of choices.
Chuck Bye, St. Paul
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
Don't limit state's options
Why is the Star Tribune Editorial Board politicizing and opposing the environmental review process? On Nov. 20 we read again about its blanket opposition to the Twin Metals project and support for U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum's bill, which would change the rules, perpetuate regulatory uncertainty and deny the proposed project the environmental review required under current law ("Brief window, high stakes for BWCA," editorial).
Sunday's editorial cited a political poll conducted by an advocacy organization whose mission is to kill the Twin Metals project. Contrast that with the recent poll from Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, which found two-thirds of Minnesota voters believe mining for rare metals critical to the clean energy transition should be mined in-state, rather than imported from other countries, and that nearly 80% of Minnesotans are more likely to support clean energy if Northeast Minnesota became an integral part of the supply chain.
If the proposed project presents unmanageable risk, the science from the environmental review will reveal that and, subsequently, support denial of the permits.
With the leadership of conservationists, the environmental review process was developed to apply scientific inquiry to determine whether a proposed project should go forward. Throwing up arbitrary roadblocks undermines the entire regulatory process and sows distrust in science, regulators and government agencies.
Climate change poses the greatest threat to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and we need an "all of the above" approach in addressing this crisis: mining for the critical minerals needed in clean energy solutions, transitioning to greater renewable energy use, recycling available materials and developing new technologies to help us reduce our carbon footprint.
David Chura, Duluth
The writer is board chair, Jobs for Minnesotans.
In response to the recent story "Sights set on climate change" (Nov. 25), we'd like to offer an alternative view on achieving a 100% carbon-free marketplace in Minnesota.
Over the last 15 years, Minnesota has accelerated its deployment of renewable energy like wind and solar thanks to tax credits and the region's natural abundance of wind in the western part of the state.
The most recent plan proposed by legislators would mandate that wind, solar and battery storage be the only allowed technologies for achieving a carbon-free goal. This is a very risky proposal as we know that electricity generated solely by weather-dependent resources puts the grid at risk to provide on-demand energy.
Just recently, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) issued an assessment that large areas of North America, including Minnesota, face "winter reliability risks during extreme weather" due to the closure of traditional power generation like coal and gas plants.
Due to global conflict, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to source the raw materials needed for wind, solar and batteries. According to the World Bank, a new wind tower requires nearly five tons of copper, three tons of aluminum, two tons of rare earth elements, and nearly 335 tons of steel.
Mandating only these technologies will only exacerbate this global-resource problem while simultaneously increasing costs to build out a new system.
Natural gas, nuclear and coal continue to prove to be the most on-demand resources that are rarely impacted by adverse weather or global strife. Nuclear energy is naturally a carbon-free resource and should be counted toward the 100% goal. An emerging technology to curb emissions for fossil fuel generation is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). This technology would reduce emissions from a thermal power plant by millions of tons of CO2 per year. Both nuclear and carbon capture are not currently included as approved technologies in the 100% goal.
While the support for CCS has grown rapidly the last few years, with support from Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, the actual technology has worked in commercial operation for over three decades in North Dakota. There are also a half a dozen projects in the Midwest ready to deploy CCS.
President Joe Biden recently made CCS a key component of the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Minnesota Legislature would benefit from following the administration's lead on diversifying our electricity generation portfolio to ensure reliability, resilience and affordability.
Luke Hellier, Lakeville
The writer is executive director, Coalition for a Secure Energy Future.