MILWAUKEE (AP) — Congress has handed a defeat to owners of a passenger ferry
that dumps coal ash into Lake Michigan as it travels between Wisconsin and
The U.S. House
on Wednesday passed a Coast Guard reauthorization bill that stripped
language requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to give the
go-ahead to the nearly 60-year-old SS Badger to keep operating.
Journal Sentinel reported that an identical bill passed the U.S. Senate
earlier. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
transports cars and passengers between Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc,
Wis., and is the last coal-burning steamship on the Great Lakes. The Badger,
run by Lake Michigan Carferry, has been defended by nautical history buffs
and those who see the ship as a boon to the economies of the two cities it
Environmentalists objected to the tons of coal ash that the Badger released
into the lake on daily voyages during the shipping season.
U.S. Rep. Bill
Huizenga, R-Mich., had introduced an amendment co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Tom
Petri, R-Wis., that would allow the Badger to keep operating — specifically,
to allow any such ship that is a National Historic Landmark.
the amendment as a congressional earmark. But Petri spokesman Niel Wright
said that Petri wanted to keep the Badger operating because of its economic
benefits in two states.
The ferry has
been discharging its ash under a federal permit that expires Dec. 19. The
EPA is reviewing a request by the owners of the Badger to keep operating the
ship, using its existing technology.