January 20, 2019

Farmer, ethanol producers rally during EPA chief's visit

17 June 2018, 07:28 | Dale Webster

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during a trip to Kansas. @EPAScottPruitt Twitter

Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the proposed budget estimates and justification for FY2019 for the Environmental Protection Agency on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018.

Farmers and ethanol producers in South Dakota held a good old fashioned tractor rally in Sioux Falls as Administrator Pruitt met with farmers in Reliance about 200 miles west. "Corn prices right now are at breakeven or below and we've lost 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol to exemptions that EPA has granted to refiners", said South Dakota Corn Growers president Troy Knecht. Pruitt has been criticized by Midwestern Republican senators for allowing the EPA to give out waivers to larger refineries to exempt themselves from having to blend biofuels. He told the group it's important to understand that the EPA works with other government agencies to determine who receives a waiver. Pruitt's visit to the farm wasn't publicized and was closed to the public. The tweet, which came as Pruitt faces sustained negative media coverage over accusations of ethics lapses and wasteful spending and the EPA's aggressive posture toward the press, linked to a report that said Pruitt had his aide contact Republican donors to find his wife a job. He said the EPA has the authority and will seek a waiver to allow year-round E15 sales.

The conservative publication National Review on Wednesday published an editorial titled, "Scott Pruitt Should Go".

Via Twitter, Pruitt said the meeting was "candid and productive". He said now the farmers are just waiting for him to follow through.

Leo is a prominent Pruitt backer and longtime friend who was involved in arrangements for the administrator's visit to Italy a year ago.

For now, Pruitt continues to enjoy Trump's support, stemming mostly from his work implementing the administration's agenda. "So that's what we've seen, is a spike in applications".

Virginia Canter of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a public watchdog in Washington, told the Post that Pruitt using a full-time EPA employee as a "headhunter for his spouse" is "highly inappropriate". "From the Renewable Fuel Standard to the so-called 'Clean Power Plan, ' we are working hard to fulfill the agency's true mission while providing certainty to stakeholders in South Dakota and across the country".

"A spike? That's more than a spike. So, you know, we could - that might be a good swap".

The Washington Post reported the news following an interview with the senator.

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