The Badger and politics

March 25, 2013

Our view. By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

The recent news about the S.S. Badger settling its differences with the Environmental Protection Agency is a positive move for the carferry and for the Ludington area. The Badger is an intricate part of our economy and is responsible for not only those people directly employed there but also for many other trickle-down jobs throughout the area. It is responsible for pumping millions of dollars into our economy annually.

Lake Michigan Carferry, owners of the Badger, have two years to start storing the coal ash offsite. We think this was a reasonable settlement. While there is no doubt that coal is a polluter, in the big scheme of things the Badger is not a major culprit. We believe that pollution from Chicago and norther Indiana are far more of a threat to Lake Michigan than one single steamship.

I also find it interesting that Sen. Dick Durbin continues to be critical of the Badger even after the settlement. One has to wonder if perhaps the senior senator from Illinois’ motives go beyond his concern for the environment and more his concern for his friends in Milwaukee who own the Badger’s competition. It seems Sen. Durbin has reaped the benefits of the Lubar famliy that owns Lake Express. The family has held fundraisers for Durbin, even though he represents Illinois not Wisconsin.

Unlike the above mentioned gentlemen, I will admit that I have a slight bias. I love the carferry heritage of this community and I am a Badger fan. I worked in the local media when the carferries stopped running in the early ’90s. I also attended the bankruptcy hearings in Grand Rapids when Charles Conrad ended up purchasing the three remaining ships. I have rode on the Spartan, the Midland ’41 and, of course, the Badger. I have a picture of myself as a boy at the wheel of the Spartan. I am an amateur historian and thoroughly enjoy the historical aspect of the Badger and its predecessors.

Plus, I freelance write and photograph for LMC.

So, yes, I am slightly biased. With that said, I try my best to maintain journalistic integrity and try to see both sides of the story. So I will make the following statement: I understand the economics of the situation, but believe in an ideal world it would have been good to see LMC continue to pursue burning liquified natural gas instead of coal. But, that’s not what happened here. One has to wonder, though, would Durbin had still been critical of the Badger if that happened? Probably so. Money talks.

With that said, it is always good to see the little guy win. I am thankful that the Badger will continue to sail. I believe the next step is for our community to begin a dialog with the owners of LMC and find out how we can keep the ship sailing for many years to come. I look forward to a great sailing season!

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