I think that trashing the LMC ownership for meeting with and lobbying Sen. Durbin is grossly unfair. It's interesting that very few who are aware of this debate even make a minimal effort to look at facts and realities without putting a "spin" on them that favors their position. Objectivity is apparent by its absence. What follows is, hopefully, objective.
1. LMC DID ask for more time to examine CNG/LNG and they weren't two-faced with the Senator about that.
They didn't commit to it and it is an innovative and clean solution that would solve a lot of problems. The problem is that, as a result of looking at it, LMC and everyone else involved found it impractical from engineering, economic and (most importantly) fuel supply perspectives - at least at this time on Lake Michigan. Meeting with your opponent and attempting to explain your position and possible plans is in no way a "rope-a-dope" of anyone. Everyone understands what is happening. Sen. Durbin was gunning for the Badger long before the cited 2011 and 2012 meetings. LMC would likely much rather have tried the futuristic solution but given the age and configuration of the boat, and difficulty of designing, engineering and implementing a "one-off" solution for the coal-fired Badger, it couldn't be done. IF it is ever done on the Lakes, it will likely be on a cargo vessel that has a long earning season and low crew costs, and for which the entire vessel
would not have to have an extended and destructive shipyard period.
2. Pursing alternate legislative approaches with sympathetic legislators is also common practice. Again, no "rope-a-dope." Does anyone really think that Sen. Durbin was unaware of the work that LMC was doing with the House members. Note, too, that they are different Houses of Congress and the Representatives are often much more willing to work with local constituents in their State and District than are hostile out-of-State Senators. "Working different angles" is not unusual, unethical or wrong. It is what any prudent person or company with a matter before a
legislative body does. I see it every day in my own legislative work. It just makes sense to talk to everyone involved and try to reach a good solution.
3. Demonizing the people on the other side of an issue with half-truths and selective citation of sources probably doesn't do much to help one's position. LMC made lots of mistakes and false starts on the issue of the Badger's coal ash. That is real life. It's a small company and it's a very big problem. The technology developed much more slowly that LMC would have hoped.
4. The Outer Boundary magazine story (and the Ludington paper story) could, and should, have been better written and documented, but they are appropriately sources journalism and contain more actual facts that almost any other written or on-line work. Most of the "big city" journalism is rewrites of interest group propaganda and most of the on-line material IS interest group propaganda. Neither have much trace of attempting to look at both sides. The Outer Boundary work does "follow the money" and connections to show a clear economic/political motivation (having virtually nothing to do with good environmental stewardship) for Durbin's position. (Especially in light of his ignoring the threat to Lake Michigan from Asian
carp and Illinois pollution with both sewage and refinery waste and runoff in northern Illinois). Durbin's links to lobbyists for Sheldon Lubar and family are well-documented. Lubar's holdings - in addition to the competing Lake Michigan ferry that is clearly and openly trying to drive the Badger out of business - include a HUGE (polluting) coal business. Are Durbin and Lubar doing a " rope-a-dope?" Or is it only bad when LMC isn't coherent and consistent over time?
Michael D. McGuire
Grand Rapids, MI