WBEZ | S.S. Badger http://www.wbez.org/tags/ss-badger Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Durbin fired up over coal-fired ferry http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-fired-over-coal-fired-ferry-106276 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/SS_Badger_and_SS_Spartan_Wikimedia Commons_by Zizmonz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is crying foul over a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would allow a famous coal-fired ferry to keep running.</p><p>The 60-year-old S.S. Badger takes tourists back and forth across Lake Michigan a few hours north of Chicago. It&rsquo;s also the only remaining ferry in the country that runs on coal.</p><p>&ldquo;Every time that filthy scow goes across Lake Michigan, it dumps two tons of coal ash into our lake,&rdquo; said Durbin Monday.</p><p>The EPA order, which must be approved by a court in Grand Rapids, would require the Badger to stop putting ash in the lake by the end of 2014. The EPA issued the consent decree in lieu of responding to a 2012 permit renewal request by the S.S. Badger, and the decree would charge the Lake Michigan Carferry Service $25,000 for violation of clean water standards in 2012.</p><p>&ldquo;This consent decree offers the fastest and most certain path available to EPA to stop the discharge of coal ash from the Badger into Lake Michigan,&rdquo; said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. &ldquo;The enforcement agreement reduces the discharge of coal ash more quickly and with greater oversight than would occur during the appeal of a decision to issue or deny a permit &ndash; a process that often takes several years.&quot;</p><p>But Senator Durbin says the ship&rsquo;s owners should have already fixed the problem.</p><p>&ldquo;For ten years they&rsquo;ve promised to clean it up, put in a diesel engine at least,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I am fed up with it.&quot;</p><p>The owners of the Badger declined to comment.</p><p>A press release says the ship will continue burning coal, but dispose of the ash on land through a &ldquo;sophisticated ash retention system,&rdquo; the details of which remain unknown.</p><p><em>&mdash;Lewis Wallace is a WBEZ Pritzker Fellow. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 17:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-fired-over-coal-fired-ferry-106276 S.S. Badger’s days could be numbered http://www.wbez.org/news/ss-badger%E2%80%99s-days-could-be-numbered-104245 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS6798_Badger_underway (1)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A car ferry that has traversed Lake Michigan for nearly 60 years could soon be put out of commission.</p><p>The S.S. Badger carries cars and trucks between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan, saving drivers a long commute through Chicago. By the company&#39;s numbers, 45,000 people took trips on the ship in 2011.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a registered historic site and the nation&rsquo;s only remaining coal-powered ferry.</p><p>But its permit from the Environmental Protection Agency is about to expire.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a dirty ferry that dumps tons of coal ash in Lake Michigan every year,&rdquo; said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.</p><p>The Democrat went on the attack when congressmen from Michigan and Wisconsin tried to slip an earmark into the House Coast Guard Reauthorization Act that would have exempted the Badger from regulation because of its historic status.</p><p>The amendment to the Coast Guard bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), made no mention of the S.S. Badger, but asked for special regulatory status for ships that are historic sites or have applied to be historic sites. In practice, there&rsquo;s only one ship that would have been exempted from environmental regulation by that clause, and it&rsquo;s the S.S. Badger.</p><p>&ldquo;The S.S. Badger had better decide to change or find another business,&rdquo; said Durbin, who accused Huizenga and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) of trying to sneak through an earmark.</p><p>A new version of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act passed in the House on Wednesday without the exemption.</p><p>Now the S.S. Badger&rsquo;s future is in the hands of the EPA, which received <a href="http://www.epa.gov/r5water/npdestek/badger//" target="_blank">an application for a new permit</a> from the Badger earlier this year.</p><p>The EPA website says the Badger&rsquo;s last permit application in 2008 included an agreement that the ship would seek to eliminate coal ash emission by Dec. 19, 2012, when the permit expires. Because the Badger has failed to make the required upgrades, it is now asking for a new permit that would give it more time.</p><p>Jennifer Feyerherm of Sierra Club&#39;s Beyond Coal Campaign said the S.S. Badger has been exempted from regulations in the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts for years.</p><p>&quot;Lake Michigan itself is the source of drinking water for 10 million people. So dumping a toxic hazardous substance into the lake is just generally a bad idea,&quot; Feyerherm said. &quot;We don&#39;t let this kind of dumping happen anywhere else. That toxic coal ash is full of heavy metals like mercury and lead and arsenic.&quot;</p><p>In order to eliminate coal, the ship could convert to running on natural gas. It hasn&rsquo;t done that yet.</p><p>Representatives of the S.S. Badger declined to comment pending a decision by the EPA.</p></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 18:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ss-badger%E2%80%99s-days-could-be-numbered-104245