Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.This coke doesn't have the strength to serve as reducing agent in a blast furnace, although it apparently can be used as fuel in Chinese and Mexican power plants. Whether shipping the stuff to China rather than shipping Powder River or Crowsnest coal is on balance environmentally more friendly the story doesn't say.
And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.
The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.
The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November.
The story, curiously, doesn't have as much to say about the third Koch brother.
One of the world’s largest dealers of petroleum coke is the Oxbow Corporation, which sells about 11 million tons of fuel-grade coke a year. It is owned by William I. Koch, a brother of David and Charles.You'd think Times readers (the paper, after all, runs wedding announcements that David Brooks famously characterized as more like merger announcements or alliances among the 1% royalty) might want to be reminded that Bill, along with Buddy Melges, once defended an America's Cup.
Race 5, May 16, 1992.
(Was that really 21 years ago???)
But, once the reminder that nasty limited-government types might be engaging in rent seeking in the energy sector is out there, the paper's mission is accomplished. You probably wouldn't use an America's Cup-class sloop to fish for Midgaardsormen.