Pruitt considering Senate-sought ethanol waiver

Source: By Anthony Adragna, Politico • Posted: Friday, May 5, 2017

PATH FORWARD ON ETHANOL, METHANE? EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may have opened a path for Senate Republicans to appease a small bloc of their caucus seeking a year-round waiver to sell 15 percent ethanol fuel and thereby boost the chamber’s odds of repealing of an Obama-era methane regulation, Pro’s Eric Wolff reports. “I very much hope we can get there, but it’s a matter of whether the statute permits it or not,” Pruitt told the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. There has been dispute within the agency and even among biofuels advocates over whether the law allows EPA to grant such a waiver, or if Congress must alter the Clean Air Act. But the promise of doing so might get the bloc of corn-state Republicans, led by Chuck Grassley, on board with using a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify a BLM rule targeting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands. It’s worth noting that another group of four undecided senators — Rob Portman, Cory Gardner, Heidi Heitkamp and Dean Heller — would likely not be won over on that alone.

Cornyn projects CRA confidence: But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn voiced optimism the chamber would vote on the measure next week and said he’d locked down adequate support to ensure its passage. “I know there are some people who wanted this ethanol vapor thing in the omnibus and that wasn’t included, but I’m optimistic we’ll get the vote” on methane, the Texas Republican told ME. John Thune, one of the CRA holdouts pushing the ethanol waiver, said the issue remained active: “We don’t have any resolution on it yet.”

That comes as 12 prominent conservatives, including the American Energy Alliance’s Thomas Pyle and the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell, sent senators a letter urging them to back the CRA effort. “Some Senators have voiced concerns that CRA method precludes future regulations. This concern is misplaced,” they wrote. “Regardless of your position on the regulation, it is clear that the BLM is far afield from its jurisdiction.”