S.S. Badger Guest Column by State Sen. Rick Jones

Some of my fondest memories in life have been spent outdoors in Michigan. The beautiful shorelines, bucolic farm land and breathtaking sunsets are natural wonders that we must cherish and protect.

Along with its natural beauty, Michigan is also home to many world renowned travel destinations. Mackinac Island, Meijer Gardens and the Holland Tulip Festival are just a few examples of locations and activities that draw in record crowds each year.

Another storied Michigan travel vacation option is the S.S Badger ferry.  For decades, the S.S. Badger has been transporting Michiganders and Wisconsinites between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, allowing passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning scenery.

Unfortunately, reports show the S.S. Badger dumps 509 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan containing mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxic metals. According to federal records, that amount far exceeds waste jettisoned by all 125 other freighters on the Great Lakes. 

In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the owners four years to find a solution.  As the EPA deadline draws near, the owners again want to delay a fix until 2017.

Recently, I asked the owners of the Badger to ‘Go Green!’  They have stalled long enough.  It’s time to capture and contain the toxic coal ash or convert the ship to a clean power source. The world’s finest example drinkable freshwater, that supports a billion dollar fishing industry must not be polluted so that they can make more profit.    

Our Great Lakes are a national treasure and we must do everything possible to protect them. I hope the Badger owners will take swift, responsible action and generations of Michiganders will be able to enjoy taking a trip on the S.S. Badger.