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SS Badger Coal Ferry: Is this the history we want to celebrate in the Great Lakes?

Henry Henderson

Posted November 9, 2011

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SS Badger by soumit via Flickr

The We Energy spill last week is not the only coal ash mess testing the Great Lakes. The Chicago Tribune ran a great story this week about the region's last coal-powered steamship, The Badger, which dumps four tons of coal ash directly into Lake Michigan every time it sails in its route between Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI. The boat faces a deadline to stop dumping the toxic stuff into our water, which the Badger’s owners agreed to honor nearly four years ago when they promised the EPA that they would upgrade the boat’s engines and cease dumping in the Lake. But, in what my colleague Thom Cmar calls "...a stunning example of special interest legislation flying under the radar," some in DC are trying to prolong the practice by sliding a rider into the Coast Guard budget and bestowing the smoking hulk with a historic designation in honor of its "historic propulsion system." (Note: the “historic” system was already out of date when the Badger first sailed.)

So much for progress and innovation in the Halls of Congress...and for protecting the health and safety of the American people…

Update: If you wondered, like I did, what this dumping looks like---YouTube has the answer:

S S Badger image by soumit via Flickr

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James RowenNov 10 2011 11:34 AM

Nice to see this. I have been writing about this since the spring of 2009, and will continue to do so.
One example is here, - - - - and more is coming today. Thank you. James Rowen, Milwaukee.

Doug TaylorNov 12 2011 02:01 AM

Has anybody come up with a solution to it? Is it even possibly to save the coal and off load it at port, after every crossing or two?

Josh MogermanNov 12 2011 02:22 PM

Doug, I believe that the boat owners had been talking about shifting to a natural gas propulsion system before seeking historic status.

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