Friday, October 13, 2017

EPA plan to scale back renewable fuels puts Trump at odds with Grassley, rest of Iowa delegation

The Environmental Protection Agency's plan to scale back the amount of renewable fuels that have to be blended with gasoline and diesel fuel could cause problems for President Trump, Dino Grandoni writes in today's "The Energy 202" for The Washington Post.

Sen. Chuck Grassley
In his campaign and in June rally in Iowa, Trump promised to support biofuels, and that helped him with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who "began embracing Trump long before the rest of the GOP establishment did," Grandoni notes. But EPA's plans for the Renewable Fuel Standard have brought the two into conflict, and put the administration and the Iowa congressional delegation "on a collision course over an issue central to the economic viability of biofuels — and to the farmers in Iowa growing the corn and other agricultural products that go into them," Grandoni writes.

Trump's promises to support ethanol helped him place second in the Iowa caucus and go on to win that and other Midwestern states in the general election, said Grant Kimberley, a corn and soybean farmer in Iowa and executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. "Rural America elected President Trump, and that was one of the key factors in the Midwest," he told Grandoni. Then, as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were confirmed, they "promised, unprompted, to support ethanol," Grandoni reports. "Yet in none of Grassley's conversations — with Pruitt, with Perry or with Trump — did the administration make specific assurances about RFS levels going forward, the senator said." Grassley is to meet with Pruitt next week.

Other issues of more interest to the president may be in play. Grassley is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in last year's election, and this "is in a better position than most other Republicans in Congress to tighten the screws on the Trump administration."

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