This is a photo of the SS Badger, my reason for coming to Washington, D.C. The SS Badger is the last coal-powered passenger ship on the Great Lakes, traveling daily between Wisconsin and Michigan from spring through fall. It spews out toxic air emissions but is exempt from any regulation under the Clean Air Act. On top of that, the SS Badger also dumps more than 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan each year. The coal ash is laced with arsenic, mercury and other pollutants that can cause cancer and other serious health effects. The SS Badger promised to end its coal ash dumping by December 2012, but now the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to give it an extension to 2015. This is unacceptable.
Lives should not be cut short from pollution in this day and age, but the sad truth is that far too many people still suffer and die because of it.
I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a wonderful place to live in many ways, but we are a segregated city and significantly higher rates of asthma and other illnesses exist in lower income and minority neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods where many of our air polluters operate from, polluting not only the air, but also our waterways. This is unjust. Clean air and clean water are a human right for all people.
I am disappointed that our leaders aren’t doing more to protect all Americans from air and water pollution. Our economy, our way of live, and even our leadership role in the world rests upon having a healthy population—both now and in the future. We have some great laws on our books and they need to be respected and enforced. Case in point—the SS Badger, a coal powered passenger ship on the Great Lakes. Each spring through fall it spews toxic air emissions and dumps more than 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan—but it is exempt from Clean Air Act requirements. The operator was supposed to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act by December 2012, but EPA has now granted it an extension until 2015. This is not acceptable for an agency charged with protection of the public health and welfare.
I believe that everyone has a fundamental right to live, work and play in a healthy environment. Lives should not be cut short from pollution in this day and age, but the sad truth is that far too many people still suffer and die because of it.