ELPC Leading Six Groups Filing Joint Comments on Proposed S.S. Badger Consent Decree

Friday, April 26, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 26, 2013

Great Lakes Environmental Groups Ask U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Strengthen Proposed Consent Decree with Coal-Ash-Dumping Ferry Boat

It’s Time for the S.S. Badger to Clean Up Its Operation and Stop Polluting Lake Michigan

CHICAGO – A half dozen regional and national environmental groups filed joint written comments Friday requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strengthen the proposed consent decree that allows the S.S. Badger to continue dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan for two more years.

The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired steamship on the Great Lakes and each year it dumps more than 500 tons of coal ash directly into Lake Michigan. A previous agreement required the ship to end its dumping of coal ash in 2012.

The comments, submitted by The Environmental Law & Policy Center, Alliance for the Great Lakes, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club, requested that the U.S. Department of Justice strengthen the proposed consent decree for the S.S. Badger in four principal areas:

  1. The consent decree should clearly and explicitly state both parties’ intentions and full agreement that there will be no further extensions of time, beyond the new 2014 deadline, for the defendant Lake Michigan Trans-Lake Shortcut to eliminate all coal ash discharges from the S.S. Badger. No such extensions should be sought by either or both of the parties.
  2. There should be more substantial percentage reductions of coal ash dumping in 2013 and 2014 in order to provide a stronger path toward complete compliance and the end of this coal ash pollution of Lake Michigan.
  3. The penalties should be increased in order to incentivize full compliance by 2014 and better ensure the end of the S.S. Badger’s coal ash pollution of Lake Michigan.
  4. There should be more frequent and transparent reporting. The S.S. Badger’s owners should be required to file discharge monitoring reports on a monthly basis like other point sources. These discharge monitoring reports should state the volume and nature of the discharges.

“It’s time for the S.S. Badger to clean up its operations and stop polluting Lake Michigan,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The leading Great Lakes environmental organizations are requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice and EPA strengthen the consent decree to reduce the S.S. Badger’s coal ash dumping sooner and with no further extensions.”

The six Great Lakes environmental organizations have numerous members who are affected by and concerned about water pollution that may cause or contribute to impairments of Lake Michigan. Among these members are many who swim and fish in Lake Michigan, who eat fish caught in Lake Michigan and who drink water from Lake Michigan. The organizations represent hundreds of thousands of members concerned about and engaged in restoring and protecting Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Two weeks ago, the groups outlined their requests at the website ProtectOurLake.org. The groups also created an awareness campaign on social media using the hashtag #SSBadger. This week alone, hundreds of tweets using that hashtag came from residents of the Midwest urging the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency to take action. Additionally, more than 6,000 letters were sent to the Department of Justice requesting that the four strengthening points above be considered.

The groups will be watching closely as the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency review the comments. The S.S. Badger’s season is scheduled to begin on May 6.

Download the Joint Environmental Comments on Proposed S.S. Badger Consent Decree

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