GOP’s ethanol supporters relieved by Pruitt resignation

Source: By John Siciliano, Washington Examiner • Posted: Friday, July 6, 2018

Republican ethanol defenders praised President Trump for accepting Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s resignation on Thursday, expressing hope that EPA’s acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler will be better for the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Both Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa praised Pruitt’s resignation after weeks of calling him out for undermining the president’s promise to farmers by mismanaging the EPA’s ethanol program in favor of oil refiners.

“Administrator Pruitt’s ethical scandals and his undermining of the president’s commitment to biofuels and Midwest farmers were distracting from the agency’s otherwise strong progress to free the nation of burdensome and harmful government regulations,” Grassley said.

“Fewer things are more important for government officials than maintaining public trust,” he said. “Administrator Pruitt, through his own actions, lost that trust.”

Pruitt had issued over two dozen “hardship” waivers to oil refineries, exempting them from having to blend ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The waivers were meant to help refineries avoid the high cost of buying ethanol credits to abide by the program but ultimately reduced demand for ethanol, harming corn farmers. EPA is currently being sued over the waivers by farm groups and the ethanol industry, who argue that the waivers were issued illegally.

Both Grassley and Ernst expressed “hope” that Wheeler, who will now become the EPA’s acting administrator, will restore the administration’s standing with farmers. Many lawmakers have expressed confidence in Wheeler’s ability to run the agency.

“I’m looking forward to working with acting Administrator Wheeler to do just that,” said Grassley.

“I have confidence that Andrew Wheeler will be a good partner at #EPA, and I look forward to working with him on the #RFS,” Ernst tweeted.

The ethanol industry, which is currently suing EPA, praised Pruitt’s departure, saying Pruitt had harmed Trump’s relationship with the farming community through his management of the biofuels program.

“So, that sound you hear is a collective sigh of relief coming from the Midwest,” said Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association. “We look forward to working with acting Administrator Andy Wheeler, whose long career focusing on policies that recognize economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive is not undermined by an unmistakable anti-ethanol, anti-farmer bias.”