Ernst: Hitting the rest button

Source: By John Siciliano and Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Saturday, July 7, 2018

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is jetting back to Washington after a whirlwind 99-county tour of her state. Her top reason for getting back quickly is to meet with Andrew Wheeler, the replacement for Scott Pruitt, who was forced to resign Thursday as head of the Environmental Protection Agency amid numerous scandals.

“I am excited to get back in D.C. on Monday,” she told John in an interview Thursday evening. She explained that getting EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard back on track after Pruitt’s mismanagement of the program is the issue “I want to hit hard” when back on Capitol Hill.
Wheels up for Wheeler: “I do look forward with meeting with him [Wheeler],” Ernst explained. She sees a “door of opportunity here for at least having the EPA upholding the law” when it comes the the ethanol and renewable fuel program. “I am hopeful,” she said.

Ernst was a vocal critic of Pruitt after he told her in a letter he was going to work with her on regulations to boost ethanol fuel blends, but then began a “secret” program to hand out dozens of waivers to oil refiners, exempting them from having to blend ethanol to manage cost.

Straight shooter: “We need to have a straight shot, and I’ll emphasize that to Wheeler,” she said. “No more foggy waivers … coming from swampy” backroom deals, she said.

E15: First on the agenda with Wheeler, get EPA to lift the restrictions on 15-percent ethanol fuel blends, allowing the fuel to be sold year round, the senator said.

Currently, E15 fuel is barred from use during the summer months. The president had called for EPA to work on year-round use of the fuel, but Pruitt ignored the directive, said Ernst.

Step it up: “Administrator Pruitt was really dragging his feet on this,” she said. For Wheeler, it is “now time to step up.”

No more White House dealmaking: Ernst told John that she doesn’t want to go back to the White House to sit across the table from refinery supporters and work out another deal, which President Trump had thought he secured before Pruitt began issuing the waivers.

That forced Trump to scuttle the deal over farmers opposition to it as bad for ethanol and good for refineries. Trump had sat down for months at the White House to work out a deal the pleases the farmers and the refiners.

‘Good day’: With Pruitt resigning “we have an opportunity,” she said. “It’s a good day.”