Big Corn Has Pruitt In Its Crosshairs

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Two corn state senators are ramping up attacks against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, criticizing Pruitt’s stance on ethanol and his ethics scandals.

GOP Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, both from Iowa, directly and indirectly criticized Pruitt Tuesday in tweets, and Ernst slammed the EPA administrator in a speech at an energy conference in Washington, D.C.

“I am hopeful that the president will just recognize that Mr. Pruitt is breaking our president’s promises to farmers and at some point he will say, ‘It’s time for you to go,'” Ernst said, according to S&P Global Platts. “But that’s up to the president to make that call. I will remain highly critical of Administrator Pruitt.”

Ernst’s comments came as President Donald Trump was considering overhauling the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refineries mix fuel with a certain amount of ethanol. After months of deliberations between the EPA, Department of Agriculture and White House, Trump planned to announce the specific RFS reforms early this week but held off Tuesday night under pressure from RFS supporters.

Ernst and Grassley were pleased with the news, thanking Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Pruitt went unmentioned.

Under Pruitt, the EPA has expanded the use of “hardship” waivers that exempt refiners from abiding by expensive RFS regulations. The move has irked RFS supporters, especially the Iowa senators who believe Pruitt is using the waivers to undermine the RFS. (RELATED: Republicans Claim EPA Leaks Are Starting To Seriously Harm Biofuels Industry)

Pruitt promised Ernst and Grassley in October he would not harm the ethanol mandate. Grassley has threatened to call for Pruitt’s resignation over the waivers. (RELATED: Chuck Grassley Threatens To Call For Scott Pruitt To Resign Over Biofuels)

In her speech Tuesday, Ernst also took shots at Pruitt’s ethical and financial scandals that have popped up since he took office, saying “Pruitt is about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C.,” according to Platts. (RELATED: Nearly Half Of America Is Completely Unaware Of Pruitt’s Recent Scandal)

The latest incidents mentioned in media reports suggest the EPA administrator asked his aides to help him purchase a mattress and get his wife a license to open a Chick-fil-A.

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment.

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