Steyer’s anti-carbon crusade bags another win (sort of)

by Henry Payne

Detroit – On the heels of blocking the Keystone Pipeline, billionaire global warming activist Tom Steyer and his green allies celebrated another victory over the oil sands industry this summer when Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied Detroit Bulk Storage a permit to store pet coke downriver of Detroit. Pet coke is a carbon-rich, coal-like byproduct from Marathon Oil’s huge Detroit refinery which processes Canadian oil sands. The DEQ’s decision came on the heels of loud protests by greens and Steyer-funded Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters.

But just as America’s fracking industry has succeeded in the face of an anti-carbon White House, the pet coke industry will not be denied.

Cheap carbon energy is the backbone of industrial nations. Just a few miles south of Bulk Storage’s loading docks, Michigan utility DTE Energy is burning Marathon’s pet coke in its Monroe coal power plant.

Just south of Michigan’s border, Port of Toledo’s Midwest Terminal is exporting Marathon’s pet coke to cement plants and coal utilities around the world.

“We’ve stored pet coke at this site for 12 years,” says Noel Frye who runs Bulk Storage as a family business with his brother, John. “Now Marathon’s pet coke business has gone out of state and to DTE.”

Standard for Democratic Big Government, the politicized pet coke market comes at a high price for the little guy.

Detroit Bulk Storage, with less than a million in annual revenue and a handful of full-time employees, has become a lightning rod for green activists. Besieged by complaints from Peters’ special interest allies, a Michigan DEQ spokesman said the agency had no choice but to take action against Bulk, even as its loading docks are surrounded by huge chemical and steel plants on Zug Island, in one the most heavily industrialized areas of Michigan.

“He’s fighting to stop putting special interests ahead of everyday folks,” boasts a Peters campaign ad. But his War on Carbon proves otherwise.

Though Bulk has stored identical-looking coal and pet coke at its facility without complaint for years, the DEQ determined that pet coke is dustier and therefore required different storage criteria.

The state’s compliance plan required that Bulk Storage erect a building to house the energy-rich substance – a massive expense for small Bulk Storage, not so much for a $10 billion utility.

DTE has met the requirements while laying low about its pet coke use in order to avoid negative media publicity. Democratic allies like The Detroit Free Press, New York Times, and Huffington Post have been a megaphone for the Green Church’s anti-carbon crusade. But with coal under assault from Washington, cheap pet coke helps utilities check energy inflation – a key to Michigan’s maintaining the heavy industry that is its economic base.

Funded by Steyer’s millions, Peters fancies himself an anti-oil sands activist.

Yet the expensive regulations he supports haven’t deterred its use. What he has deterred are small business jobs in a bankrupt city that needs more of them. 

Planet Gore

The hot blog.