OUR VIEWS: Coal ash dumping must stop

Oct 11, 2012

 

The Badger makes trips from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wis., during the warmer months. It dumps 3.8 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan every time it makes that trip.

Four years ago, Lake Michigan Carferry — which operates the Badger — obtained a permit that allowed the company four years of continued coal ash dumping. The permit was issued with the understanding that, during that time, the ferry company was to find another fuel source that was not as harmful to the environment.

That permit will soon expire, and the company has still not found a solution.

Lake Michigan Carferry claims it does not have the funding and resources to make the necessary conversion in time for the Dec. 19 deadline, so they are asking for an extension on the permit that will allow them to conduct business (and continue to pollute) as usual.

Make no mistake, the Badger has significant historical value, but the idea of allowing its coal ash dumping to continue at the expense of our environment is not tolerable.

It’s also not fair to the Badger’s competitor to the south, the Lake Express, which travels from Muskegon to Milwaukee. The Lake Express car ferry has received numerous "green" awards, while investing money to adhere to current emissions guidelines.

Hopefully, the strides Lake Michigan Carferry has made to obtain funding for the conversion from coal to a more environmentally friendly power source will come together in time — but it's not looking promising.

To its credit, the company claims it has curbed coal use by 20 percent during the past several years. It has also found ways to reduce discharge, including using a more efficient but much more expensive type of coal.

Those are tremendous steps in the right direction, but they’re not enough. Lake Michigan Carferry officials should be held to the timeline passed along by the EPA four years ago.

What a shame it would be if the Badger were unable to continue operating with a lesser footprint on the environment due to a lack of preparation. The company's actions — or apparent lack thereof — affect their employees, tourism and a mode of travel counted on in our nearby communities.

But when’s enough enough?

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

Wingmaster

Thanks Vlad, even though this is getting redundant.

Tri-cities realist

To Kevin Hook and the GH Tribune staff: in the future if you would like to contact someone regarding the Badger, I would suggest Dr. Shirley Fleischmann, professor of mechanical engineering at GVSU. She is familiar with the operation of the Badger (and it's historical significance) and is also concerned about the environment, so I would be curious to hear her thoughts on this matter.

100pctHuman

It's nice to hear from the SS Badger management on this. While we have you on the line, can you explain the following?:

1) Coal ash retention systems for ships have been around for decades and are made by US companies . Why haven't you made an honest effort to add one? For reference, see the following:
http://www.scribd.com/collection...

2) You suggest that you have decreased coal burning since 2008 but in 2011 you dumped 700+ tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan vs. the "508 tons" you cited in 2009 press releases: http://www.scribd.com/doc/780822...
http://www.scribd.com/doc/780774...

3) You state over and over that the SS Badger that the SS Badger saves on fuel and air pollution vs. trucks that drive the same route, but the research that you've been touting for a year has come in and now shows that the SS Badger is extremely polluting vs. trucks and that LNG is still more polluting than driving. Now what?
http://www.glmri.org/downloads/2...

4) What gives with violating Michigan state law? How long have you been aware of this?
http://www.hollandsentinel.com/n...

Landsold

Well nice to hear from another seminar activist making using the same scribd source city to city with the same tired scribd files that are either taken out of context, altered, or extremely old and/or irrelevant. The best it seems you can do is accuse people who disagree with you is accusing them of working for the Badger and offering accusations of law breaking and conspiracies. By the way your GLMRI report is incomplete and only reporting cardon dioxide. Where is the rest of the report. Something to hide. Doesn't fit the your spin.

100pctHuman

Nice ad hominem. The full report is there. And the facts are in context. Read before you attack.

While you're not doing anything, please take a moment to sign the petition - stop dumping coal ash in Lake Michigan.

http://cleanwateradvocates.org/s...

Landsold

Like I said a seminar activist making spun and false claims and circulating the same tired old petitions that never get enough signitures. By the way, the begining of that report says they tested six pollutants, the rest of the report only mentions carbon dioxide. So much for reading it or your hiding the rest of the report because it does not fit your agenda.

100pctHuman

Page 10 of the report - SS Badger particulate emissions are about 10,000% worse than 1,000 trucks driving from Green Bay to Detroit.

http://www.glmri.org/downloads/2...

Landsold

Page 10 does not say that. The study was based on 12 trucks. Besides the Badger takes more than 12 trucks and cars per year.

100pctHuman

It says that the SS Badger has a capacity to carry 12 trucks per trip.

Why do you people have such a problem with telling the truth?

Landsold

Yeah, why do you? The study says it has the capacity of 45 trucks

Tri-cities realist

I have nothing to do with the Badger or its management or operation, other than having ridden on it once. I just looked at the report you linked to, and did a little math which showed that the Badger's mercury levels are about the same as the average waste water treatment plant. The Badger is not violating state law. They have applied for an exception from the 1.3ng/L mandated by the EPA, the same process that waste water treatment plants, electric lower plants, and other industry do, if they exceed that threshold. Did you not read my full post, or were the facts not conducive to your argument, so they were ignored? I will ask one more time, should we shut down the waste water treatment plants that exceed the 1.3ng/L threshold? As for the cost of the land based disposal system, if your numbers are correct, that solution seems reasonable, so I don't know why the Badger's operators wouldn't implement them. Btw, your holland sentinel link is dead.

100pctHuman

Q: How do you know the SS Badger owners are lying? A: Congressman Huizenga's lips are moving.

May 24, 2012 - Congressman Huizenga proclaims that "science is on our side" while boasting that SS Badger tests show no harmful pollutants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...

June 26, 2012 - SS Badger actually conducts the tests of SS Badger coal ash, using the parameters specified by EPA: http://www.epa.gov/r5water/npdes...

August 29, 2012 - EPA notes that the tests performed by LMC have significant issues. http://www.epa.gov/r5water/npdes...

LMC put "results" in a press release and press conference a full month before even starting to test their coal ash discharges.

Landsold

Looks like the same tired talking points and spin by Organik consulting activists. They call it Verbal Jujutsu. http://organikconsulting.com/blo... They don't care if what they say is accurate or not.

HotWife

what kind of person dumps coal ash into Lake Michigan?

Landsold

What type dumps diesel exhaust and thinks its green?

HotWife

BIG SHIP! SHUT DOWN!

Landsold

Poor Lake Excuse.

Wingmaster

Ah come on, that's your arguement? Big ship shut down! That sure puts many ships outta business! What other facts can you bring to the discussion?

HotWife

Sorry to disappoint you, but I have no links to post. I am a mom who enjoys spending time at the beach with my kids and eating the fish that my husband catches out of Lake Michigan. Our quality of life along the shores of Lake Michigan is precious to our family. Any thought of someone doing something to compromise that seems so disrespectful. As I read all of these posts it just seems to me that there are solutions out there to keep the water clean - so why don't they do that? If they choose not to they shouldn't be able to operate. Isn't that the cost of doing business?

Wingmaster

Ok I'm with you on maintaining this beautiful resource, but the same criteria for shutting down the Badger should apply to anybody that discharges anything into our Great Lakes. The mercury levels of the Badger discharge are far less than some of the goop and run off that is going into the Grand River. Lets be consistent, don't you think.

PatsyJo

I believe there was plenty of fish in the lake for many many years when there were many many coal fired ships on the lake...why are you people so hell bent on attacking the one and only coal powered ship left as if that one is going to take out all the fish and wildlife....and seriously could you be more sarcastic "What a shame it would be if the Badger were unable to continue operating ...". We all know how much you love that little ferry express, but green awards? Why don't you go find someone bigger to pick on?

100pctHuman

Why are the owners of the SS Badger still working on permanent exemptions for coal ash dumping?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/ne...

Landsold

Good. The ash is not hazardous. Why is Lake Express allowed to operate doing this without any issues from the EPA and still be called green? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T...

GH55

From the Chicago Tribune: Investors who saved the Badger from the scrap yard during the 1980s won special exemptions from Michigan and Wisconsin air quality laws that kept the ferry's thick black coal smoke legal. The current owners later rejected state aid to convert the Badger to diesel, telling the Ludington Daily News in 2001 they wanted to run the business "without governmental assistance."

More recently, after the owners failed to win a $14 million federal stimulus grant to convert the Badger to diesel, they shifted their efforts to blocking the EPA from enforcing a cleanup deadline. They have spent $290,000 on federal lobbyists since 2008, according to records compiled by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.

This could have easily been taken care of! They blew it! Stop the pollution now!
Bill Huizenga is helping them pollute the Lake! Rich folks don't care about anyone but themselves.

Landsold

Well according to the Milwaukee Journal a total of $660,000.00 has been spent in lobbying by both ferry companys. So in other words Lake Express spent over $80,000.00 more trying to shut down the Badger than LMC spent to keep it open. http://www.jsonline.com/news/wis... Lake Express has all this money for lobbyists yet can't afford to clean sweat stains of the neck rests on the seats. http://betweenthebars.typepad.co... No wonder why there are so many empty seats on that boat.By the way, your ownership argument is false. The Badger has changed hands a couple of times since the exemptions were granted.

100pctHuman

Bob Manglitz - LMC is willing to remove the coal burning engines and install diesel engines. 1995. Nearly 20 years later they claim to have no idea how to end coal ash dumping?
http://www.scribd.com/doc/106160...

Landsold

The mechanics on the Spartan had been removed to repair and maintain the Badger. So it would be easy to to convert. A link form 1995 is kind of irrellevant though. Shipbuilding charges were much cheaper and diesel fuel costs have gone up four times since then. If you would like to write a check to convert it go ahead.

100pctHuman

If the Spartan, an identical sister ship to the SS Badger, is easier for LMC to convert, then they should convert it instead. As an added bonus, they can get started right now before the SS Badger finishes its season.

Landsold

Go ahead. Have Organik write the check.

100pctHuman

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