SS Badger’s Days May Be Numbered
An historic car ferry that has crossed Lake Michigan for nearly six decades may soon be taken out of commission, according to a recent report by WBEZ 91.5 Chicago that was published on the station’s website, wbez.org.
The problem, says officials, is that the SS Badger, which is the nation’s only remaining coal-powered ferry, spews too much pollution into the lake, and its permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about to expire.
“It’s a dirty ferry that dumps tons of coal ash in Lake Michigan every year,” Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was quoted by WBEZ as saying. The Democrat went on the offensive when, according to the WBEZ report, congressmen from Michigan (Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga) and Wisconsin (Republican Rep. Tom Petri) tried to slip an earmark into the House Coast Guard Reauthorization Act that sought to exempt the SS Badger, from regulations because of its registered historic site status.
“The SS Badger, had better decide to change or find another business,” Durbin was quoted in the article as saying.
The SS Badger, carries vehicles between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan, saving drivers a lengthy commute through Chicago. According to the WBEZ article, 45,000 people took trips on the ship in 2011.
To avoid the pollution issues, the WBEZ news report says the ship could convert from coal to natural gas operation but has yet to do so.