S.S. Badger Could Sail Again
A provision to a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives could allow the S.S. badger to continue operating. Video by nbc26.comvideo
MANITOWOC-- A provision to a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives could allow the S.S. badger to continue operating. The EPA had ordered the ship be permanently docked next month because of pollution concerns.
The S.S. Badger pumps more than $14 million into the Manitowoc area economy each year. It carries thousands of cars and passengers between Manitowoc and Ludington, Michigan each season. “If it wasn't for those dollars, we can't make that up elsewhere; visitors are going to travel elsewhere if this isn't a transportation option for them,” said Manitowoc Area Visitor’s and Convention Bureau President Jason Ring.
The EPA says the 410 foot vessel also dumps hundreds of tons of coal ash into the lake every year, containing arsenic, lead and other toxins. Ring says the company that operates the ferry is working on making it a greener, more environmentally-friendly ship.
County leaders say losing the historic car ferry would be detrimental to area tourism. But environmentalists argue the permit allowing the Badger to pollute has gone on long enough.
"This is an outrage, there is no reason this should continue,” said Clean Water Action Council President Dean Hoegger.
“They've been dragging their feet for years on this and getting extension after extension, we feel that needs to come to an end, they've had their opportunity to upgrade now let's hold them to it,” Hoegger said.
Lake Michigan Car Ferry service, the company that operates the S.S. Badger will not comment on the pending legislation, saying only quote: “We are pursuing all of our options and are very confident that we will be sailing in 2013.”
The ship's future, meanwhile, could rest in the hands of Congress.