State Sen. Rick Jones urges EPA to respect Michigan’s clean water laws

State Sen. Rick Jones urges EPA to respect Michigan’s clean water laws

Lansing—State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, on Monday urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to honor the state of Michigan’s criminal ban on Great Lakes dumping by rejecting the SS Badger's request for a federal permit to dump coal ash into Lake Michigan in violation of state law.

Sen. Jones’ current district includes the Lake Michigan shoreline from Holland to Saugatuck.

Lake Michigan Carferry, the owners of the SS Badger ferry, previously admitted that they dump almost 8,000 pounds of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan daily under a special exemption from the National Environmental Protection Act, which the company received in 2008. 

“The Badger owners talk about going green while asking the federal government for another five years of special exemptions from Michigan law,” Jones said.  “As a former county sheriff, I’m calling on the Obama administration not to issue any federal discharge permit for the SS Badger that would result in a violation of our state’s criminal Great Lakes dumping ban. 

Michigan law has banned dumping of all substances in the Great Lakes since the passage of the Watercraft Pollution Control Act of 1970, which prohibits the discharge of litter from water craft or commercial vessels. The act defines litter, in part, as waste material, debris or other "foreign substance of every kind and description.”

In 1979, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld the law, saying that “even the ash from an incinerator must be deposited onshore.'' 

“42 years of illegal Great Lakes dumping is enough time to adjust to market conditions and state laws," Jones said.  "The Obama EPA must respect Michigan’s sovereignty over the Great Lakes and not issue any permit that will result in a violation of state law.

“The SS Badger can stay in business for another 60 years by either capturing the coal or converting to a cleaner energy source as every other ship in the United States has already done.  What it can’t do is thumb their nose at the rule of law.”