Iowa, Nebraska senators to meet with EPA pick Scott Pruitt to gauge his support of ethanol

By Joseph Morton, World-Herald Bureau

WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has a date with a group of Midwestern senators seeking promises he won’t gut federal policies that promote renewable fuels such as corn-based ethanol.

Senator Chuck Grassley

Senator Chuck Grassley

Pruitt’s ability to assure those farm-state lawmakers during the meeting, scheduled for this afternoon, could determine whether he’s confirmed as President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt has criticized the agency for what he considers regulatory overreach — a position that thrills regulation-weary farmers and the Republican senators who represent them.

But Pruitt also has criticized the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, echoing complaints from the oil industry that such a policy is simply unworkable. The RFS, which by law

Senator Joni Ernst

Senator Joni Ernst

requires certain amounts of renewable fuels be blended into the gasoline supply, has been key to the explosive growth of the ethanol industry, particularly in Iowa and Nebraska — the No. 1 and No. 2 ethanol-producing states.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, arranged today’s meeting with Pruitt to discuss the importance of renewable fuels. Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, both Nebraska Republicans, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, plan to attend.

Fischer and Ernst both sit on the Environment and Public Works Committee that will be responsible for overseeing Pruitt’s confirmation. Both told The World-Herald that they’d like to see him publicly state the assurances related to the RFS that he’s made privately to senators.

To read the whole story from the Omaha World-Herald, click here.