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 firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.