Environmentalist Democrat Refuses to Sell Oil Profits

Michigan papers dismiss hypocritical attacks on GOP nominee Land

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / AP
September 15, 2014

Michigan environmentalist Democrat Gary Peters refuses to sell the thousands he has reaped in profits from a Big Oil investment tied to an alleged pollutant.

The Senate nominee refuses to sell his $19,000 investment in French oil giant Total S.A., which produces pet coke an oil byproduct that Peters called "dirtier than the dirtiest fuel," according to the Detroit News.

"Am I going to sell it? I have no plans of it, no," Peters told the Detroit News after speaking at the Michigan Democratic Party’s African-American alliance breakfast in Southfield. "It is an investment in the fourth largest oil company in the world. It has nothing to do with the Detroit situation."

Peters’ investments complicate his campaign’s attempt to tie Republican opponent Terri Lynn Land to the pet coke storage in the Detroit area. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee released an attack ad linking Land to Charles and David Koch who are tied to the Detroit site through a subsidiary. The Lansing State Journal dismissed Peters’ attacks.

There is no evidence Land had or has anything to do with it. There is also nothing linking her with pollution in Detroit’s 48217 ZIP code.

Peters’ hands, however, were not nearly as clean, according to the Journal. The oil company he invested in was forced to pay nearly $9 million in fines in 2013 for polluting the environment.

Peters’ ownership of shares in Total Petrochemicals, the French company’s U.S. subsidiary, is fair game for questions. The company owns a refinery that makes pet coke in Port Arthur, Texas — a city where several articles have been written about the effects of toxins on residents. Total paid an $8.75 million fine last year for earlier violations of pollution limits […]

He still presumably stands to profit from its products, including pet coke, a substance his allies called in a recent ad targeting Land "some of the dirtiest oil waste imaginable." Considering the emphasis Peters has put on the piles that once abutted the Detroit River, raising questions about his shares of Total S.A. is inbounds.

Land told the Washington Free Beacon that Peters should sell his Total S.A. investments and donate the profits that he made through the company following the DSCC attack.

"Congressman Gary Peters should immediately sell his $20,000 investment in pet coke, the very substance he tells voters is polluting Detroit and the substance that is the nexus of false attack ads launched by National Democrats like Senator Harry Reid and California billionaire Tom Steyer," Land told the Free Beacon in a statement. 

Peters’ investment portfolio, which has made him a multi-millionaire, has caused him many headaches in the past few months. He invested thousands in companies that have outsourced jobs and engaged in tax inversions, as well as the Detroit Water Department, which is currently shutting off service to poor residents behind on their bills. He has also refused to speak on those investments.

Land and Peters are running a tight race to replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who won by more than 30 points in 2008. A Mitchell Research poll released Sunday showed Peters with a 2-point lead, while a Real Clear Politics average shows him ahead by 5 points.