By Ed Tibbetts, Quad-City Times
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has done a “good job” overall, but he is unlikely to ever change his mind about ethanol.
The Republican senior senator for Iowa said Pruitt has reversed some key Obama administration regulations, even as he has angered the biofuels industry.
“I think he’s done a good job, except on ethanol,” Grassley said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at LyondellBasell plant in Clinton, marking the company’s $50 million investment in its operations center. Construction on the center began in 2016.
The biofuels industry, as well as farm state lawmakers, are furious that the EPA has granted hardship waivers from the mandates of the Renewable Fuel Standard.
On Monday, Reuters reported the EPA had granted a waiver to billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s CVR Energy, Inc. for a plant in Oklahoma.
Grassley complained about the waiver, saying on Twitter it was a “bailout for billionaires.”
EPA has granted about two dozen waivers.
Earlier in the day, the senator said on a conference call with Iowa reporters that he would also seek to change how the EPA interprets the law as it pertains to waivers through the appropriations process. But, he said, the next opportunity to do that won’t be until later this year.
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Biofuel backers also have sought to leverage the president’s pledge to support the RFS during the 2016 presidential campaign in the dispute over the 12-year-old law.
Grassley said he still hopes the president will influence Pruitt, saying, “I hope the president makes him change his mind.”
Critics of the Renewable Fuel Standard say it has exacted high compliance costs on small refineries.
They say the Obama administration denied refinery waivers in many cases and, as a result, many of them were sold to larger companies.
They also say the EPA, after losing a court case last year, now is following the law and that is drawing complaints from the biofuels industry.
Grassley, in his remarks in Clinton, praised Pruitt for moving to reverse Obama administration regulations aimed at reducing emissions at power plants across the country, as well as the Waters of the U.S. rules that drew criticism from many in the farm industry.
Grassley also stopped at Per Mar Security in Davenport, after appearing with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, at a Republican Party of Iowa event Monday night in Cedar Rapids.