By JOHN FLESHER
AP Environmental Writer
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) – The U.S. Senate’s second-ranking Democrat says he opposes allowing a Ludington-based ferryboat to continue dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan.
Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois announced his position Thursday in a letter to Robert Manglitz, president of Lake Michigan Carferry. It operates the SS Badger.
The Badger is the nation’s last working coal-fired steamship. It takes passengers and their vehicles between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis., from May to October.
Operators have a December deadline to stop dumping waste ash into the lake but are seeking a federal permit for more time while they research a conversion to natural gas.
Durbin calls the plan “far-fetched” and says it could cost $50 million to build fueling and storage infrastructure for the gas.
Company officials have no immediate comment on Durbin’s opposition.