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Illinois Quarterly Report—Summer, 2013

Ongoing Issues: SS Badger, Waukegan Harbor, Fracking

Can We Achieve an Environmental Solution for the S.S Badger Any Sooner?

The historic ferry S.S. Badger has operated between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, since 1952. This ship is important both economically and historically.

So What’s the Problem?  The Badger’s coal-powered engine system has promoted serious ecological concerns.   The ship burns about 12,000 tons of coal per season, leaving and 500 tons of untreated coal ash to be disposed of. This waste is dumped into Lake Michigan each year.

EPA Solution Step: Proposed Consent Decree  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the lodging of a proposed consent decree that requires the Badger’s owner, Lake Michigan Carferry Service (LMC) of Ludington, Michigan, to eliminate the discharge of coal ash into the lake by the end of the 2014 sailing season. 

Over these two years, according to the proposed consent decree, the ferry will reduce its discharge of coal ash and LMC will pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury water quality standards.

League Solution Step  LWVIL joined environmental organizations in April to send a letter to the in Assistant Attorney General asking for a strengthened consent decree with the owners of the ship. The letter requested a stepped reduction of ash dumping over the two years of the consent decree and more financial penalties for noncompliance.

See the EPA’s information site for the original compact: S.S. Badger Coal Ash Discharge

Waukegan Harbor Update

Waukegan Harbor, Illinois’ federally designated Great Lakes Area of Concern, has been of the League’s watch list for a number of years.  The League has monitored the remediation of polluted sediment from the Harbor regularly.  The last phase of dredging of the PCB-laden soil began in September 2012, and it is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.  See more about the Harbor at Waukegan River Harbor

Keep on Top of Fracking News with Freshwater Future

Freshwater Future has initiated a multi-pronged project on Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking).  This environmental organization dedicated to the reservation of the Great Lakes is developing a program available to community groups and residents for affordable water monitoring in areas where wells are licensed.  This program includes professional water testing prior to drilling begins, instruction for periodic monitoring by residents, and additional professional testing when needed.

Freshwater Future has also created a resource that debunks economic myths that are often cited in favor of fracking.  League members may contact the Lake Michigan League for more information and the password to the site for the League to use in advocacy.

Finally, Freshwater Future is starting a group interested in undertaking activities with regard to the Clean Water Act, and LMLWV has joined.

See more at Fracking in the Great Lakes region

League At Work: LMLWV and Six Local Leagues Take on Stormwater Management

On June 18, 2013, 6 local Illinois Leagues presented an excellent panel of speakers on the topic of stormwater in Wilmette, IL, under the umbrella of the Lake Michigan LWV. The Illinois members of the Lake Michigan League would like to continue work on this important topic within their state, with an eye on replicating the efforts in other states, if there is interest.

The Lake Michigan League has submitted a grant application in conjunction with the League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund to fund a follow-up project.

Within the League and Behind the Scenes

Concurrence with Michigan Ecosystem Position

The LWVIL unanimously voted to concur at its June, 2013 convention, as previously reported by President Saunders. This will become obviously significant as we go forward this year.

–Submitted by Illinois delegate Krista Grimm

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