Success: Coal-Ash Dumping in Lake Michigan Finally Over


Target: Patrick McCarthy, Vice President of shore operations at Lake Michigan Carferry

Goal: Support the end of careless coal-ash pollution in Lake Michigan

The S.S. Badger is the last remaining coal-powered ferry in the U.S. As of October 26, 2014, it will no longer be one of the Great Lakes’ worst polluters. A previous ForceChange petition called for the ferry to use cleaner energy and the end of an era will see the end of unnecessary coal-ash pollution in Lake Michigan. When it returns for its 2015 season, the passenger ferry will be a much cleaner vessel, no longer dumping waste into the beautiful waters of the Great Lakes.

During the Badger’s runs between May and October—starting in 1953—the vessel was responsible for roughly 500 tons of coal ash dumping every season, more than all other Great Lakes freighters combined. An agreement made between the Environmental Protection Agency and Lake Michigan Carferry—the company that runs the S.S. Badger—also requires the company to pay $25,000 in fines for coal-ash dumping. A 2012 test of the vessel’s ash showed mercury concentration at 200 parts per trillion, well above the federal standards of 1.3 parts per trillion.

A $1.5 million upgrade to the ship will reduce and collect the ash it still produces, a compromise long in the making after vehement lobbying against regulations on the ferry’s pollution. The ship brings $35 million to the two cities it connects and provides 200 jobs, so fears of the effects of heavier regulation were not surprising. While the initial cost of the upgrade seems hefty, the benefits to the natural resource on which it relies are surely worth the price tag.

Sign this petition to support this clean upgrade and the protection of our Great Lakes.


Dear Vice President McCarthy,

Lake Michigan has suffered from heavy and unnecessary coal-ash pollution since 1953. The S.S. Badger has dumped about 500 tons of ash into the lake every year since it began running, more than all the other freighters in the Great Lakes have produced combined. Still, its importance to the local economy and workforce is ample cause for its continued runs. It would be devastating to decommission the ship entirely. Luckily, that won’t be necessary.

The upgrade to the Badger will help lower the ship’s running temperature, reduce the amount of coal it uses, thereby reducing the ash it expels, and contain the waste on the ship, keeping toxins out of the water. The project will mean no jobs lost and no further destruction to one of our nation’s greatest natural wonders.

I applaud the agreement to protect Lake Michigan from easily avoided pollution.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Zizmonz via Wikimedia Commons

Original petition: Protect Lake Michigan from Coal Ash Pollution

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