S.S. Badger Future in Jeopardy
Congress nixed a provision on a bill that would have allowed the Lake Michigan car ferry to stay afloat. Video by nbc26.comvideo
Plans to keep the S.S. Badger running are in jeopardy. The U.S. House passed a Coast Guard funding bill Wednesday, but nixed a provision that would allow the Lake Michigan car ferry to stay afloat. The EPA claims the S.S. Badger is an environmental concern.
Promoting the S.S. Badger has not been smooth sailing for Jason Ring.
"It's disappointing that people didn't see the Badger as important as we do," Ring said.
Ring is the president of the Manitowoc Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Congress striping protection for the S.S. Badger has Ring concerned about the $14-million it pumps into the economy each year.
"That's a big number. We can't make that up easily in other ways. It would be like shutting a street down that brings traffic into a community," Ring said.
The EPA claims the S.S. Badger also pumps hundreds of tons of coal ash into the lake every year.
Dean Hoegger with the Clean Water Action Council is pleased with the decision--since he says the vessel did not move forward on the EPA's request to upgrade years ago.
"It seems to me they should pay the penalty for not moving forward and upgrading or making an effort to upgrade it," Hoegger said.
Still Congressman Tom Petri hopes the EPA will accept the vessel's pending permit to give them more time to find a cleaner way to set sail.
"People from all over the country look forward to coming and traveling across Lake Michigan," Petri said.
We could not reach the company who owns the S.S. Badger for comment. However, last week they told us they're confident they will be sailing in 2013. We should also find out in a few weeks if the EPA will grant the Badger's permit to continue operating.