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Some times there are just too many stories out there about Senate and Gubernatorial candidates that I don't have the time to report on all of them.  But I am glad to see Congressman Gary Peters (D. MI-14), who is running for Senator Carl Levin's (D. MI) seat) keep up the fight on this issue:

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., announced an effort Tuesday to minimize the dust and contamination caused by mounds of petroleum coke piled along the Detroit River.

The black, coal-like material, created during the coke refinery process and sold as a fuel source, is piled along the river after it was produced by Marathon Petroleum's nearby oil refinery and sold to Koch Minerals LLC, the Detroit News reported Tuesday.

Nick Schroeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, referred to the slowly dwindling mountains of petroleum coke as "illegal dumping. It's illegal storage along the riverfront." - UPI, 8/6/13

Here's a little more background info:

The petroleum coke piles that have amassed along the Detroit River in recent months are now dwindling and should be gone by fall, but that does not mean they cannot or will not return.

And U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D - Bloomfield Township) told a community roundtable Tuesday that the growing local concern should now expand its focus beyond the banks of the Detroit River.

Koch Carbon is shipping the large black mounds of tar sands byproduct to a site in Ohio, and Peters said the storage of petroleum coke has now expanded to cities across the country.

“Pet coke must be stored properly whether it’s here in Michigan or wherever these piles are being moved in the Great Lakes region,” Peters said. “Your efforts as small business owners, neighbors, and the community at large to raise concerns over the pet coke’s impact on public health and safety cannot stop now.”

Detroit Bulk Storage, the company responsible for storing the petroleum coke, is currently going through a permitting process with the city and the state Department of Environmental Quality. - MLive, 8/6/13

Peters has been taking action in addressing this problem:

Peters said he was going to request the Government Accountability Office conduct a study concerning regulations related to petroleum coke at the federal and state level and any possible risks it might pose to public health and the environment. Peters said he is seeking best practices used in other areas of the United States to develop a solution that can work here.

“Hopefully, we can use them to mirror what are the best ways to handle this from across the country,” he said. “This material might be coming back. It’s important we learn how to store this to protect the lakes and the people of southwest Detroit."

The black, coal-like material is created during the refinery process and can be sold as a fuel source. The mounds of pet coke that began growing along the river this year were produced at the nearby Marathon Petroleum’s oil refinery and purchased by Koch Minerals LLC, a company owned by industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Peters’ press conference come a few weeks after Detroit Bulk Storage said it would no longer accept new shipments of the controversial pet coke. According to Daniel Cherrin, spokesman for Detroit Bulk Storage, the piles have been getting smaller since the shipping lanes reopened and the company began loading it onto boats. - The Detroit News, 8/6/13

And it looks like Peters efforts to look into the affects of pet coke are paying off:

Four U.S. senators last week – Carl Levin (D-Mich), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), Richard Durbin (D-Ill) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) – introduced The Petroleum Coke Transparency and Public Health Study Act which calls for a study of the health effects, environmental impacts and safety of petcoke.

“Increasing production, storage and use of petroleum coke means it is vitally important for us to fully understand the health, safety and environmental effects,” Levin said. “This legislation will provide the understanding we need to exercise good stewardship.”

Petroleum coke started to be produced in large amounts at the nearby Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit last fall after a massive $2-billion facility upgrade was completed — allowing it for the first time to process heavy crude oil brought in by pipeline from Alberta. It gets filtered out from the crude to be resold as a cheaper replacement for coal.

Although not officially listed as a toxic or hazardous product, it can contain heavy metals or sulphur, according to experts.

The petcoke pile in Detroit was a resulted from purchases by billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch – regarded as the largest customer and supplier of petcoke in the U.S. They have indicated storage of their product is shifting from Detroit to a location in Ohio. But that may be temporary since the company storing the product on the riverfront has applied for permits from the city of Detroit.

Politicians from other midwestern states are starting to speak out since petcoke connected to Alberta is being produced in greater amounts at U.S. refineries and being stored at several locations.

“Ohioans deserve a full study of the health and safety effects of petroleum coke,” Brown said. “This will ensure that its production, storage and handling are guided by science and community input.”

The legislation introduced by the U.S. senators is a companion to similar legislation introduced in the House in Washington last month by U.S. Congressman Gary Peters (D-Mich). - The Windsor Star, 8/7/13

Peters has a terrific environmental record in the House and he will make an excellent addition to the U.S. Senate, especially when it come to greener, pro-environment legislation.  Now even though it's Michigan, a safe blue state, Peters is going to need our support for two reasons.  The first is his crack down on pet coke, especially Koch Carbon, will motivate the Koch brothers to spend big to defeat him.  The second is Peters' opponent, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R. MI) is pretty wealthy herself:

GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land and her husband are worth tens of millions of dollars — some of which they could invest in her bid to replace the retiring Sen. Carl Levin.

Land, the former two-time Michigan secretary of state, reported in financial disclosure forms that she and husband Dan Hibma have assets of at least $34 million — without counting liabilities. Much of her family’s wealth comes from owning nearly 70 properties in West Michigan and Florida, according to documents she filed with the U.S. Senate necessary to run for the federal office.

Land’s worth could be much higher since candidates report assets in broad ranges, such as more than $1 million.

The financial disclosure forms reveal Land’s potential to self-finance her run for the U.S. Senate, which is expected to cost candidates in the tens of millions to compete for the rare open seat in 2014. - The Detroit News, 8/5/13

If you would like to donate or get involved with Peters' campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 10:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, Climate Hawks, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and Motor City Kossacks.

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