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.
Detroit – The headlines continue to trumpet the “electric cars of the future,” but the whisper in the auto community today is that the electric car revolution is sooooo 15 minutes ago.
Numbers from auto research firm Edmunds.com find that, despite a record number of battery-powered models for sale, the hybrid-electric market is low on charge. Fifteen years after the launch of the iconic Toyota Prius, the electrified market has settled in as a niche occupied by well-to-do greens (helped by “populist” Democrats tax credits of up to $7,500 per purchase) instead of the promised gateway to a post-oil future.
“This was a market that was supposed to grow, relatively rapidly, as people embraced these new technologies and more brands began selling these models,” Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell told the Los Angeles Times. “That hasn’t happened.”
Indeed, hybrid sales (vehicles powered by battery-assisted gas engines) are declining as trendy greens have simply switched their purchases from hybrids to battery-only electrics. While the EV market gained 22,939 in sales (to 81,097) in August, the hybrid market declined by 23,112 (to 327,418).
As a result, the battery-powered vehicle market as a whole declined to 3.66 percent of cars sold — down from 3.84 a year ago.
Automakers have made huge bets on electrics as the answer to the Obama EPA’s radical (and unilateral) 54.5 mpg auto mandate by 2025. But with EVs on IV, manufacturers like Toyota and GM are reviving the idea of hydrogen vehicles — not because they will sell, but because they will help automakers gain big mpg “credits” against the law.
Toyota, for example, quietly abandoned its joint venture with media-darling Tesla earlier this year to make a battery-powered RAV4 crossover. Instead, Toyota is banking on hydrogen credits and its hybrid lineup to meet its 2025 obligations. Tesla remains the EV hope with its taxpayer-supported Nevada battery gigafactory and the promised 2017, $30k Model E.
Contrary to Democratic rhetoric, in other words, more Washington regs are benefiting the connected rich: Bigger loopholes carved by three-piece suit lobbyists and bigger tax credits for rich consumers and manufacturers.
Revolution? The new auto market sounds like the same old Beltway insider play.
His plan to spread climate alarmism is going too well. The National Legal and Policy Center reports:
Billionaire enviro-liberal Tom Steyer should thank his earth-healing, universalist, Less-Than-Supreme Being that the planet’s survival isn’t dependent on his business influence or political expenditures, because they have been massive flops.
Take, for example, “Risky Business,” his venture (along with figureheads Henry Paulson and Michael Bloomberg) introduced in late June to pressure businesses, investors and policymakers to account for vast planning costs for impending global warming effects in their financial reports. Initial media coverage of the contrived project made it appear that it would exert major influence in the corporate world. But while the scheme attempted to show intellectual rigor and nonpartisan analysis, Risky Business was easily revealed to be nothing more than another deeply biased construction to drive a political agenda.
A month after its introduction – accompanied by a New York Times op-ed by Paulson and interviews by Steyer and Bloomberg – and Risky Business was already fizzling. Now, two months later, it appears to be evaporating into irrelevance.
Steyer utilizes the staff from his nonprofit Next Generation to keep Risky Business alive and relevant, but the Web site has quickly gone dormant. The project’s blog featured just three posts in the month of July, when you’d think Steyer would want the big bucks he spent to create the report to get the most bang. Worse, the entries were nothing original – just links to op-eds written by Risky Business “risk committee” members Henry Cisneros,Robert Rubin and Donna Shalala.
And the money he promised to raise to help Dems in 2014 is missing in action as well:
So that’s Steyer’s business effort – what about his campaign activism? There also we find weaknesses in influence and credibility. As NLPC mentioned a month ago, he pledged to raise $50 million from other donors to match his own $50 million in contributions to climate-conscious Democrat candidates, via his NextGen Climate Action Committee. Politico reported two weeks ago that only $1.7 million has come in, compared to the $11.6 million Steyer has delivered so far. The feeble response is illustrative more of an egomaniac with significantly more bluster than political muscle, but Steyer had an explanation.
“We have gotten a lot of people who I think would put in money alongside us as opposed to through us,” Steyer said at a conference in Aspen, Colo. “Because I think people like — particularly people when they think they’re spending a lot of money — like to feel as if they have some control over it, and if it’s their effort.”
That’s baloney, as there are PACs all over the place for wealthy liberals to give their money to – and they do. But they’re not giving it to NextGen.
The whole thing here.