November 22, 2014

Vote in Congress leaves fate of S.S. Badger uncertain

The owners of the S.S. Badger car ferry across Lake Michigan have suffered a major defeat in Congress. The U.S. House of Representative on Wednesday removed an amendment from a Coast Guard spending bill that would have allowed the Badger to keep dumping coal ash into the lake for as long as the 60-year-old ship can run.

Fond du Lac Republican Tom Petri and a Michigan lawmaker inserted the amendment, in an effort to keep the Badger running beyond December 19th when a federal emissions permit expires.

Critics say the coal-ash causes too much pollution and Petri’s amendment was deemed an improper earmark, resulting in the full House removing it before sending the Coast Guard spending package to President Obama. The Senate had approved it earlier without the Badger amendment.

The S.S. Badger carries vehicles and people from between Manitowoc and Ludington Michigan. The ship’s owners say they have had a hard time developing an alternative emission system on the Badger, which is the last coal-burning steamship on the Great Lakes.