After all the years of back and forth it looks like the SS badger, the USA's only coal burning steamship in operation, is going to have permission to dump 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan every year as long as it operates. The ash would cost $750,000 per year to hold and dispose of the ash on land. The permissions are hidden in a USCG re-authorization bill and do not name the Badger specifically.
The most troubling part of this situation is the inability of a small population to work together to save a ship that holds fond vacation memories for generations of mid-westerners and global visitors.
A complete misunderstanding of the maritime industry by the public and lawmakers in a shipbuilding region is baffling. Our prospects for revitalizing the maritime industry are dim since the Badger is a small problem where a 14 million dollar diesel re-power it too expensive. A cheaper natural gas burner refit was also rejected.
The cost to fix the shipping infrastructure of the US is two to three trillion dollars, it is failing and essential to commerce as we have known it for the past hundred years.
Photo Courtesy of Lake Michigan Carferry