Environmentalist Dem Praises Dow Chemical During Town Hall

Dow employees among Gary Peters’ biggest donors

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / AP

Democratic Senate hopeful Gary Peters offered effusive praise to one of his largest campaign donors during a Wednesday town hall-style campaign event.

Peters, a three-term congressman, reinforced his dedication to an environmentalist agenda during a question-and-answer session with Michigan business and nonprofit leaders at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday. He extolled the virtues of Dow Chemical, a Michigan-based company that has been a frequent target of environmentalist groups, when asked to highlight someone fighting climate change.

"When you talk about Dow Chemical … they’re cutting edge environmental technology," Peters said. "It’s really transformative."

He told the crowd of a recent visit to a Dow Chemical plant that was working to create solar shingles to create zero-energy houses that will allow homeowners to create an energy surplus that can be used to "plug in your car."

He failed to mention that Dow Chemical is his campaign’s second-largest donor, despite his commitment to environmentalism, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Peters has received more than $28,000 from the company’s employees and PACs, more than double the amount the company’s employees and PACs have given to any other candidate.

Peters has campaigned as an environmentalist despite cashing checks from Dow Chemical, which has called for expanded hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and shale gas exploration in Michigan and across the country. The company is in the midst of an economic boom thanks to carbon energy and is investing billions of dollars developing natural gas facilities in Louisiana and Texas.

The Michigan Democrat recently accompanied Harry Reid on a trip to San Francisco to solicit funds from environmentalist Tom Steyer for Reid’s Super PAC, the Senate Majority PAC.

Steyer has pledged to spend $100 million to elect pro-environmentalist Democrats in 2014 and has given millions to the Super PAC. Peters has benefitted from this largesse: The PAC has spent nearly $2 million on attack ads against GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land.

Land slammed Peters for catering to "a billionaire radical from California," rather than the people of Michigan, which strongly favors the Keystone Pipeline and "an all of the above" energy approach, she told the audience at the same town hall.

Michigan has emerged as a closer-than-expected contest, despite the influx of outsider cash, and could play a decisive role in Senate control in 2014. President Obama won Michigan in 2012 and retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin beat his Republican opponent by 30 points in 2008. Land trails Peters by about three points, according to Real Clear Politics average.