Democratic Congressman Gary Peters is catching heat in Michigan’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race for investing in a foreign energy company that produces petroleum coke, a coal-like substance he has denounced.
The campaign of Republican Terri Lynn Land noted on Tuesday Peters’ investment in French energy firm Total SA — whose Port Arthur, Texas, refinery produces fuel and pet coke, according to a Total fact sheet.
The Peters’ campaign said Tuesday the congressman owns about $19,000 of Total stock, comprising less than 1 percent of his investments. In filings with Congress, Peters, of Bloomfield Township, reported buying $1,000 to $15,000 worth of Total stock in December 2012 and another $1,000 to $15,000 worth of its stock in May 2013.
Peters has spent the last year and a half opposing efforts to store pet coke — a byproduct of the petroleum refining process that is often sold as a fuel source — near residential neighborhoods in Detroit and Downriver. It was stored along the Detroit River last year before protests from residents and elected officials — including Peters — forced the host company to move it.
“Michigan voters can’t trust anything Gary Peters says. He has spoken out of both sides of his mouth on enforcing immigration laws, and now we learn he is heavily invested in a company that produces the very thing he is most outspoken about — petcoke,” Land campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a Tuesday statement.
“Terri Lynn Land will work to put Michigan first and create jobs, meanwhile Gary Peters just does what he thinks is best for his career or his wallet.”
The Peters campaign countered that “This is a desperate political attack by the Land campaign to try and distort Gary’s record of taking on the Koch brothers,” industrialists who owned the Detroit pet coke and whose Americans for Prosperity group has bankrolled millions of dollars worth of ads attacking Peters’ support of the federal Affordable Care Act.
“Gary’s push to take on the Koch Brothers and get answers on proper oversight, regulation, and management of pet coke actually works against any business interest he could have from these stocks,” spokeswoman Haley Morris said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the company Detroit Bulk Storage sought state permission to store the material farther down the Detroit River near River Rouge and Ecorse.
The state denied the permit application because of the company’s history of failing to contain dust blowing off the Detroit pet coke piles. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says testing shows the substance is not a toxic threat, but it reduces air quality when dust from the piles isn’t contained.