Pruitt could threaten Iowa’s status as wind, energy leader

Source: By Rhea Spigner, KCCI Des Moines • Posted: Friday, December 9, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa —President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency has some Iowans worried after the state has established itself as a national leader in wind and solar energy.

“The person who is being nominated is going to be the fox guarding the chicken house,” said Ralph Rosenberg with the Iowa Environmental Council, pointing out that Pruitt had at one point tried to sue the EPA. “He sued EPA from stopping mercury, arsenic and other toxic pollutions. Iowans care about public health and water.”

Pruitt is also a proponent of fossil fuel, which could hinder Iowa’s progress in solar and wind energy – two systems that have created more than 7,500 jobs in the state, Rosenberg said.

“We have federal elected officials who have taken a role in supporting wind and energy,” Rosenberg said.

That includes U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, who told reporters in a weekly conference call: “This is very important to Iowa with our wind energy ever expanding and creating lots of opportunity in our state. I want to ensure that (Pruitt) is going to follow ongoing congressional intentions with (the) Renewable Fuel Standard.”

But Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, a seventh-generation farmer, said he has no doubts that Pruitt will continue to line up with Iowa’s needs.

“The lawsuit that he put together again was standing up for people, and it was over-regulation,” Kaufmann said, adding that over-regulations have put strain on Iowa farmers. “For instance, the EPA without Congressional action has decided they’re going to regulate any water source in Iowa, even if it’s a farm pond.”

Kaufmann also said he believes Trump’s promises to Iowa will reflect positively for renewable energy.
“These agencies change with administration,” he said. “I think we can have our cake and eat it, too.”

Pruitt released a statement Thursday, saying in part, “The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”