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      Historic ship has new chance to keep sailing

      The last coal-fired vessel in regular commercial service in the country has a new chance to keep sailing.

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted Lake Michigan Carferry Service (LMC), the owner of the S.S. Badger, permission to apply for an individual permit. LMC recently received the news in a call from Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

      The Badger, a historic car ferry that runs between Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI, is currently operating under a series of guidelines established by the EPA under a Vessel General Permit, which expires in December. If approved, the individual permit would allow the Badger to continue operating.

      To date, LMC has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on researching a solution and believes that there is great promise with natural gas.

      "We are currently working with the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute to explore the option of converting the Carferry to run on clean-burning natural gas," said Lynda Matson, Vice President of Customer Service and Marketing. "Many feel that natural gas is the fuel of the future for the marine industry."

      "We are deeply appreciative to the federal representatives who have played a critical role in helping us gain permission from the EPA to apply for an individual permit," said Matson. "Our appreciation extends to Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Bill Huizenga, Congressman Dan Benishek, Senator Carl Levin, Senator Ron Johnson, Congressman Tom Petri, and Senator Herb Kohl."

      In May 2011, LMC met with the EPA in Washington D.C. and at that time were told to work with EPA's Regional office in Chicago, IL. LMC then met with the Regional office in June, 2011.

      As a result of that meeting the Regional office directed LMC to petition for the ability to apply for an individual permit. Although this request was unprecedented, LMC obliged and officially petitioned the EPA on November 2, 2012.

      "We are pleased that the EPA has granted us permission to apply for a permit" said Lynda Matson, Vice President of Customer Service and Marketing. "We have already started preparing the permit application and plan to meet with the EPA to discuss details soon."