After promising the EPA that it would find a solution and stop dumping hundreds of tons of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan every year, the owners of the Badger car ferry are pulling out all of the stops, desperately trying to find an exemption from the Clean Water Act that will allow them to keep polluting.
This article in the Chicago Tribune highlights the Badger Owners’ attempts to have the aging vessel named a National Landmark, and this one in the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter illustrates the legislative maneuvers the owners are attempting to get an exemption from the Clean Water Act.
The Badger ferry has been polluting Lake Michigan long enough, and today Clean Wisconsin and several other environmental and wildlife groups took action to try to put a stop to this egregious act. Read more in the press release below:
Environmental and Wildlife Groups: Coal Ash-Dumping Car Ferry Should Play by Rules
Aging Badger car ferry dumps over 500 tons of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan each year
MADISON – Environmental and wildlife groups are asking the U.S. Senate and the Landmarks Committee of the National Park System Advisory Board to take action to ensure that Badger car ferry owners are unsuccessful in efforts to circumvent the Clean Water Act in order to continue to dump hundreds of tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan every year.
“Lake Michigan is a national treasure that provides drinking water for 10 million people; the Badger car ferry should not be allowed to treat it like a landfill,” said Amber Meyer Smith, director of government relations at Clean Wisconsin. “Coal ash contains 24 known pollutants including mercury, arsenic and lead. Dumping it straight into Lake Michigan is an egregious act that must stop.”
Every year, the Badger car ferry dumps over 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan on its trips between Manitowoc, Wis. and Ludington Mich. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the owners of the aging ship four years to find a solution that would keep coal ash out of Lake Michigan.
As the 2012 deadline draws near, the efforts of the Badger car ferry’s owners are focused on once again trying to circumvent the Clean Water Act instead of cleaning up the aging ship. Owners are asking the U.S. Park Service to declare the ship and its engines a National Landmark, and on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would exempt the ferry from the Clean Water Act for the life of the vessel. If the ship is either declared a National Landmark or if the House amendment is enacted, the Badger car ferry will be allowed to continue dumping toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan.
“There is no reason the Badger car ferry should be permitted to dump toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan when the rest of the Great Lakes fleet has cleaned up its act,” said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. “Every year thousands of anglers fish Lake Michigan, infusing millions of dollars into our economy. By dumping hundreds of tons of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan every year, the Badger car ferry is jeopardizing a national treasure, a Wisconsin tradition and a multimillion-dollar industry.”
In a letter addressed to the Landmarks Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board today, 14 environmental and wildlife organizations ask the board to delay a decision on the Badger car ferry owners’ request to designate the vessel a National Landmark until the agency has the opportunity to consult with the EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This decision should not be taken lightly when the health of Lake Michigan is at stake,” said George Meyer. “Lake Michigan deserves special protections, not the Badger car ferry. I urge the Landmarks Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board and our Senators in Washington D.C. to take action and make sure that the Badger car ferry is required to play by the rules.”
A copy of the letter sent to the Landmarks Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board is available at:
Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization, protects Wisconsin’s clean water and air and advocates for clean energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature and by holding elected officials and polluters accountable. Founded in 1970 as Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade, Clean Wisconsin exposes corporate polluters, makes sure existing environmental laws are enforced, and educates citizens and businesses. On behalf of its 10,000 members and its coalition partners, Clean Wisconsin protects the special places that make Wisconsin such a wonderful place to live, work and play. 608-251-7020, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.cleanwisconsin.org.
-Contributed by Sam Weis, Communications Director