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U.S. Rep. Gary Peters & MP Brian Masse Call on Great Lakes Governors, Premiers to Address Petroleum Coke Piles

As U.S. & Canadian Leaders Meet for Council of the Great Lakes Governors Summit, Peters & Masse Urge Regional Consensus on Pet Coke Storage to Protect Public Health & Great Lakes Watershed

DETROIT, MI – As regional Governors and Premiers representing the Great Lakes convene for the Council of the Great Lakes Governors Summit today, U.S. Representative Gary Peters and Brian Masse, Member of Parliament, urge them to address the issue of petroleum coke piles that are growing along the Detroit River. Peters and Masse believe that without proper storage, the threat of contamination from dust and storm water runoff could pose health and sustainability threats to Great Lakes communities and the broader watershed.

The Council of Great Lakes Governors Leadership Summit is set to meet today through the weekend and focus on regional priorities. Governors Pat Quinn (Illinois), Rick Snyder, Mike Pence (Indiana), Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne are set to attend.

Peters said, “Michigan families and businesses are justifiably concerned about the potential health risks from the piles of petroleum coke near the Detroit River, and I urge the U.S. and Canadian leaders today to use the opportunity of this summit to ensure our Great Lakes communities and watershed stay healthy. As the problem of uncontained pet coke piles in Detroit continues to grow, it is essential that we have regional cooperation to protect the Great Lakes, one of Michigan’s and North America’s greatest assets.”

Masse said, “At this time very little is known about the potential impacts of petroleum coke on the environment and human health.  What we do know is that it is the by-product of an industrial process that seeks to remove the most environmentally destructive elements from oil-sands bitumen.  We need to develop stronger understandings of the impacts that this material will have on our communities from its production, transportation, storage and end use. The Great Lakes is one of the world’s greatest treasures, and we owe it to ourselves, our children and future generations to continue to fight to improve the environmental conditions and erring on side of caution should be policy and practice."

Peters is fighting to ensure that Michigan families and small business owners are protected from any potential health or environmental risks from the pet coke piles along the Detroit River. Earlier this week, Peters heard from 30 local residents worried about potential health risks from the uncontained pet coke piles. He has raised two new concerns regarding safe storage and necessary permitting for the piles. Peters has also spearheaded efforts to press the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for answers about measures in place to protect the Great Lakes watershed from contamination. Peters raised awareness of Detroit’s pet coke issue on the U.S. House Floor and is working on legislation to require a common-sense study about the potential public health risks from pet coke.

Detroit’s pet coke piles were recently featured on The Daily Show, and The New York Times also highlighted the environmental and economic challenge the Koch Brothers’ owned pet coke piles present to Detroit.

 

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