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Grassley Fears Oil Company-EPA 'Collusion' Will Undercut RFS

Amy Mayer
IPR file photo
Sen. Chuck Grassley and other Iowa officials held a rally for the RFS at an ethanol plant in Nevada in 2013.

Corn growers, ethanol producers, and oil companies are anticipating an announcement from the Trump administration on possible changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which one Iowa senator says could undercut the president’s stated commitment to the law.

Ahead of the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, candidate Donald Trump pledged his support for the RFS, a promise Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expects the President to keep.

But for several months now, oil companies and senators from oil-friendly states have pressed for changes and, Grassley says, the White House and Environmental Protection Agency appear poised to make some. From what he’s heard, Grassley says the changes might include allowing gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol to be sold year round. While he supports that, he says there are also export changes on the table and those would be a benefit oil refiners, at the expense of ethanol.

He says a trifecta including oil-state members of Congress, industry supporters and staff within the federal bureaucracy have been more successful getting their way with the Environmental Protection Agency than the corn-state senators including himself and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who have met several times at the White House on this issue. Grassley holds Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt largely responsible.

“Big Oil having a big victory through collusion between senators from oil states and from the bureaucracy that is probably anti-ethanol,” Grassley says. “And particularly new people within that EPA bureaucracy that’s anti-ethanol and pro-Big Oil.”

Details of the changes have not yet been made public. Grassley says he’s waiting on details, but in the past he has threatened to call for Pruitt’s resignation over the disputes concerning the RFS.

“This is a case where the president is being ill-served by political-appointees that aren’t carrying out his agenda,” Grassley says.