Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bring back the old Gary Peters

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters is running for the U.S. Senate, but the question is, which Gary Peters is running?

Is it the one who represented the former 9th district in Oakland County or the one who represents the new 14th district that stretches all the way to Detroit?

To be sure, the difference may be more in image than in substance, but you can see it for yourself by checking out the news releases issued from his office since Peters became a congressman in 2009.

He seems to have adopted a more confrontational, strident and partisan approach.

Perhaps the most striking example is Detroit Bulk Storage’s petroleum coke export business, on which he was called out in a commentary published in The Wall Street Journal.

Peters said in a recent news release that he is seeking a comprehensive solution on how to properly store pet coke and a study into the long-term health and safety implications of pet coke.

“Pet coke should not be blowing into people’s homes and businesses or draining into the Great Lakes watershed,” Peters said.

He might have added that the Grand Canyon is deep.

“Most people watching their city teeter on the brink of collapse would welcome the fact that Detroit is at the crossroads of an energy revolution in North America,” wrote Henry Payne in The Wall Street Journal. “To meet American's voracious thirst for petroleum products, millions of barrels of Canadian-mined oil sands are shipped across 2,000 miles of pipeline to Marathon's giant refinery off I-75 in southwest Detroit ...

“Pet coke is being tested by local utility DTE Energy for use in its coal-fired plants. In a neat twist, the material is also being exported back to a Canadian power plant in Nova Scotia (as well as to other countries) via barges loaded at the Detroit waterfront,” Payne continued.

Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality has approved the project. The federal Environmental Protection Agency said pet coke, which is  a common ingredient in electricity and steel production, is nontoxic, Payne wrote.

“By going after the city's burgeoning industry in pet coke — a byproduct of oil-sands refining — ‘green’ politicians like Detroit's U.S. Rep. Gary Peters hope to further discourage Canadian oil exports from ever making it to the Keystone Pipeline or other American refineries,” Payne wrote.

In taking his critical stance, Peters is following the lead of his new constituents in Detroit, led by the incompetent Detroit City Council. God forbid that he should stand up to this dysfunctional, nonfeasant group.

Peters won election and re-election to his old 9th district seat by attracting the votes of thousands of Republicans and independents to an unprecedented degree, even in the face of the Republican landslide victory of 2010. He conducted himself in an intelligent, independent and bipartisan fashion; indeed, that is the record of his public service.

Let’s hope the old Gary Peters re-emerges. We’re at his mercy since he seems destined to replace Carl Levin in the U.S. Senate. The Republicans appear to be in disarray in fielding a candidate.

Michigan has a history of statesmanlike U.S. senators regardless of party. Think of Levin, Philip Hart, Robert Griffin and Arthur Vandenberg.

Peters is capable of attaining that caliber.

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