The ferry releases more than 500 tons of coal ash from May to October, and operators say there’s no quick fix.
If the standoff between the EPA and the ferry line isn’t resolved, the Badger could be grounded.
“This is very important to Ludington and that whole area, and West Michigan,” Monetza said.
The Badger employs about 200 people during the boating season.
“They need something to survive,” Grand Haven Councilman Mike Fritz said of the Ludington community.
To help prevent a shutdown, the Grand Haven council recently lent its support to the Ludington community in the form of a letter. City officials wrote the EPA to support the effort to keep the Badger in operation via a short-term extension of its EPA operating permit while ash alternatives are considered.
“I have no idea what their plans are, but we need to give them that chance to survive,” Fritz said.
Ludington City Manager John Shay said he was happy Grand Haven stepped up to the plate to offer support.
Shay said the Badger has a $21 million economic impact to the Ludington community.
“This is a very, very important issue to us and we are hoping the EPA will provide an extension,” Shay said.
The Badger entered service in 1953. Most of the boats met a sad ending in scrapyards by the late 1980s. The Badger survived when an entrepreneur refurbished it for leisure travel.
Environmentalists say the contaminants add up over time. And supporters of a rival company say the Badger shouldn’t expect special treatment.
“They’re putting almost 8,000 pounds of ash a day into Lake Michigan,” said Steve Warmington, mayor of Muskegon, a city 60 miles south where a diesel-powered ferryboat called the Lake Express is based. “There’s no way in the world you can convince me that’s good for the lake.”
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.