Republican Iowa senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley met last week with Oklahoma Attorney General and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt.
Ernst and Grassley said after the meetings they are reassured that Pruitt will uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), despite some politicians’ concerns over Pruitt’s actions in the past.
“I greatly appreciate Mr. Pruitt’s time today to visit about a number of important issues” including “upholding the Renewable Fuel Standard in accordance with congressional intent,” Ernst said in a press release.
“In regards to RFS, it is imperative that the law is followed. I received assurances from Mr. Pruitt that he intends to do so, and I will hold him to that commitment. I was pleased to hear that President-elect Trump made it clear to Mr. Pruitt that he cares about the RFS. Mr. Pruitt told me in our meeting that the role of the EPA is to enforce the law as written by Congress, and not undermine the RFS.
“I stressed that a strong and robust RFS encourages consumer choice, investment, and innovation. The RFS is a major driver of alternative fuels and economic development, and I will always protect and promote it in the Senate,” Ernst said.
The RFS wasn’t the only issue discussed in the meeting; Ernst said other environmental concerns were addressed too.
“We also discussed increasing concerns over the environmental regulations coming out of the EPA. Overall, we had a thoughtful conversation about the need to do everything possible to fix these federal overreaches and get the EPA back on track to operating within the congressional intent of our laws, acknowledging the federal-state partnerships that exist and faithfully considering the comments of the public,” she said.
Statement from Grassley
Grassley said he has been disappointed by the Obama Administration’s lack of strong support in implementing the congressionally mandated RFS, and that he is confident the RFS will be followed under the Trump administration.
“We got a very positive response on Mr. Pruitt’s support not just for the RFS but more importantly, for the rule of law. The rule of law is that what Congress passed, the EPA is supposed to follow and not undermine it, the way the current administration has done with the RFS. … From the standpoint of what President-elect Trump wants to accomplish, renewable energy supports a high number of jobs, 43,000 jobs in Iowa just with biofuels and another 7,000 jobs in wind energy. We have to import less oil from the Mideast because we have a very vibrant ethanol industry. As far as whether I’ll support the nomination, I tend to wait for nomination hearings before making up my mind. We got a positive comment that the law’s going to be followed, and that’s very, very important,” Grassley said in a statement.
Pruitt’s background on RFS
As attorney general of one of the largest oil-, natural gas- and grain-producing states, Pruitt has stood up against the RFS, an EPA-run program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was expanded and extended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The RFS has boosted demand for corn and soybeans in the U.S., as well as the rural economy. The oil industry has rallied against the RFS, and Pruitt has called the program “unworkable.” Pruitt has also challenged EPA regulations on carbon emissions and water pollution.