Monday, September 16, 2013

EPA & DOJ Strengthen S.S. Badger Consent Decree

Sep 16: U.S. EPA announced the filing of a motion by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to enter a revised consent decree that requires Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. (LMC) of Ludington, MI to cease the discharge of coal ash from the S.S. Badger at the end of the 2014 sailing season. The revised consent decree was strengthened in response to almost 8,000 public comments on a proposed consent decree that was lodged earlier this year. Copies of the public comments and EPA's response to those comments were also filed with the court today. EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said, "The revised consent decree has been strengthened based on public comments on the proposed consent decree that was lodged in March. These revisions increase certainty that the S.S. Badger will stop discharging coal ash to Lake Michigan at the end of the 2014 sailing season."

    The proposed consent decree has been revised to double stipulated penalties for non-compliance with the deadline for ceasing coal ash discharges; to limit the mercury and coal ash content of coal used by the S.S. Badger during the 2014 sailing season; and to require LMC to report information on the quantity of coal ash discharged by the S.S. Badger. The proposed consent decree also requires LMC to pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury water quality standards in 2012. The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired ship operating on the Great Lakes.
    Sierra Club Illinois Chapter Director Jack Darin released a statement saying, "Lake Michigan is one of our nation's greatest natural resources, and DOJ's actions will help preserve the quality and safety of the drinking water source for millions of people in the Midwest. We applaud EPA for its efforts to strengthen the proposed consent decree, and for listening to concerns raised by thousands of residents around Lake Michigan who want the SS Badger's dumping stopped. The fact remains that there is no safe way to burn coal, and even if coal ash is stored on board the S.S. Badger, it will eventually be dumped in another location. It is time to retire the outdated, polluting coal-fired S.S Badger and focus Great Lakes transportation dollars on developing high speed rail and other clean, safe travel options for families in the Midwest."
    Access a release from EPA (click here). Access additional extensive information about the S.S. Badger including comments, the amended consent decree and much more (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club (click here). [#GLakes]