Energy

The EPA Gave Up On Ethanol Cuts So Trump Could Get Nominees Approved By The Senate

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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A Senate committee approved four nominees to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air, chemical, legal, and water offices after the Trump administration assured GOP lawmakers from corn-rich states that the EPA will not cut the biofuel mandate.

The nominees are now waiting for confirmation by the Senate.

Several Republican senators had threatened to stall nominees to the key EPA posts until EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt promised to drop reductions to the biofuel mandate from potential changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), Fox Business reports.

Pruitt had proposed changes to the RFS that included a 0.2 percent reduction from the 2017 biofuel target of 19.28 billion gallons. It would have been the first reduction since the program’s beginning in 2006.

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa sits in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) that approved Trump’s nominees.

“I had to have those assurances in writing from the administrator before I was willing to move Bill Wehrum forward,” Ernst said over Trump’s nominee to head the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which oversees the RFS. “I just didn’t want verbal assurances, I wanted it in writing.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, also from Iowa but not on the EPW, had threatened to thwart Trump’s nominees, even if they were approved by the committee, if Pruitt and Trump went through with the biofuel reduction, the Associated Press reports.

“I’ve made it clear that EPA’s latest proposal under the RFS would break the president’s and Administrator Pruitt’s commitment on this issue,” Grassley said last week according to the AP. “It would hurt rural America and also hurt Iowa.”

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