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Deadline passes for SS Badger to dump coal ash into Lake Michigan


MANITOWOC, WI (WTAQ) - A federal deadline came and went Wednesday for the S.S. Badger to stop dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan, when it carries cars and people from Manitowoc to Ludington Michigan.

The 60-year-old ferry is the last steamship of its kind operating on the Great Lakes – and it’s been under orders to find a cleaner way to handle its emissions.

The company says it’s looking at alternatives, but it needs more time. And after getting a four-year grace period in 2008, the Badger says it needs another EPA permit renewal or it will have to shut down.

The EPA says it will make a tentative decision on a permit by March 1st, and will then issue a final ruling after taking public comments. The agency says it has received about 6,000 letters and e-mails about the subject – many from residents of the Manitowoc and Ludington areas who say it’s part of their heritage, and it should be preserved.

Congressmen for those two areas tried to sneak an extension into a budget bill, but it didn’t work. They say the economy of the two areas is at stake.

But a competing ferry, Milwaukee’s Lake Express, says it doesn’t get special treatment from the government and the Badger shouldn’t, either. The Badger issued a statement Wednesday vowing it will run in 2013, and they’ll keep working with the EPA to make it happen.