Sen. Jones Urges Congress to Reject the SS Badger bypass of Michigan on coal ash dumping

LANSING —State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, today called on Congress to reject a proposed amendment to the Coast Guard bill that would gut Michigan’s authority to review any proposed permit for continued coal ash dumping by the SS Badger car ferry.

“Today is the 40th anniversary of the passage of the federal Clean Water Act,” Jones said. “The Clean Water Act, which I strongly support, created a role for state review and certification of proposed federal discharge permits affecting the Great Lakes.”

As recently reported in a front page story in The Chicago Tribune, the owners of the SS Badger are seeking an amendment to the Coast Guard Authorization Act that would allow the ship to bypass the ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit process as well as required state review and certification of any EPA permit decision.

“The SS Badger wants to have its coal ash cake and eat it too. First, they asked for another five years from the EPA convert to natural gas. Now, they’re running to Congress and asking for a permanent earmark to allow coal ash dumping for the life of the ship,” Jones said.

The owners of the SS Badger have admitted that they dump 509 tons of coal ash, waste concentrated with arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals,into Lake Michigan a year.

According to Jones, if Congress approves this special earmark, that will mean another 80 million pounds of toxic coal ash dumped into Lake Michigan during the remaining life of the ship.

Michigan law has banned dumping of all substances in the Great Lakes since the passage of the Watercraft Pollution Control Act of 1970, two years before the passage of the federal Clean Water Act.

“The SS Badger pollution earmark wouldn’t just bypass the EPA, it would bypass the state of Michigan review and certification process for any draft federal permits,” added Jones.

“That’s unacceptable. Michigan is the Great Lakes State. The feds can’t just tell us what to do under the Clean Water Act. They have to seek our certification that a draft federal discharge permit complies with state law and coal ash dumping fails this test.

“Obamacare cut out the states and gave us the Cornhusker Kick-Back. Well this is the Badger Bypass. I’m calling on Congress to reject the Badger Bypass and preserve Michigan’s right to review any proposed federal Great Lakes discharge permits.”