Pruitt’s Renewable Fuel Attacks Cost Him GOP Support in Congress
by Mike Carr (The Hill/New Energy America) As the drip, drip of Pruitt scandals becomes a deluge, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s supporters continue to claim that he should be protected because he’s “advancing the president’s agenda.” But because he’s breaking a key Trump promise made to Iowa voters, he is losing the support of senior Republicans in the Senate. Given all of the scandals he’s facing, he cannot afford to lose GOP support in Congress.
The conventional wisdom was that the GOP would overlook ethical lapses if it meant that Pruitt would continue to attack renewables and support their pro-fossil fuel incumbent agenda.
But Pruitt’s attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have cracked the firewall. Earlier this week, we learned about another sweetheart deal Pruitt handed out to a prominent Republican contributor and former Trump advisor, Carl Icahn, that further weakens the RFS.
This isn’t particularly new behavior for Pruitt, who has been at times almost comically brazen in his cozy relationship with lobbyists and his willingness to reward them. In this case, however, beyond simply adding to the pile of ethics questions, Pruitt has added kindling to the smoldering resentment that Pruitt is actually breaking a key Trump promise to rural America — his commitment to protect and grow the RFS.
Earlier this month, five GOP Senators told Pruitt to stop issuing these so-called “hardship waivers.” The revelation that a refinery owned by billionaire Icahn was being bailed out because of “economic hardship” turned the spark into a fire.
I’ve mentioned before that Pruitt stretched his authority to grant small refinery “hardship” waivers to an uber-profitable refiner resulting in a $50 million windfall.
Clearly, Grassley is running out of patience. So too, I suspect, are Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and others who have repeatedly asked Pruitt to uphold Trump’s RFS promise. These senators will undoubtedly raise the issue with the president, and point out what it could mean for his reelection. READ MORE
Reforming the Environmental Protection Agency (Washington Times)
Excerpt from Washington Times: The EPA must continue to advance the nation’s push toward increased production and use of homegrown, renewable fuels. Our production of biofuels and our nation’s energy independence have grown in response to the Renewable Fuel Standard. We must not pull the rug out from under our still-growing biofuels industry and the farmers who grow the feedstocks for it. The science is collaborative and convincing on ethanol. Even when hypothetical changes in land use are included in the measurement, ethanol from corn reduces greenhouse gas emissions 40-45 percent compared to gasoline.
Today’s EPA wants to restore the use of common sense and sound, peer-reviewed and publicly available science to guide our nation’s environmental policies. Calling for increased transparency is a good first step, and Mr. Pruitt deserves credit for bringing an objective, reasoned approach back to the EPA. He can continue the push for openness and reason in EPA regulation by taking the same approach to growing America’s production of low-carbon, farm-grown biofuels. READ MORE