Pruitt departure pleases Grassley, Merkley, farm, fuel groups
President Donald Trump announced the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, a move that pleased Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and farm and fuel leaders who had criticized Pruitt’s actions on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
In a set of tweets, Trump wrote, “I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.
“The senate confirmed deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!”
Although Trump said Pruitt resigned, the fact that Trump announced it and said that Pruitt had done a good job “within the agency” led to speculation that he had been fired over the many ethical controversies that surround him.
In his resignation letter, posted by The Washington Post, Pruitt said he was resigning due to “unrelenting attacks” on him.
Grassley said, “President Trump made the right decision.”
“Administrator Pruitt’s ethical scandals and his undermining of the president’s commitment to biofuels and Midwest farmers were distracting from the agency’s otherwise strong progress to free the nation of burdensome and harmful government regulations.
“Fewer things are more important for government officials than maintaining public trust,” Grassley said. “Administrator Pruitt, through his own actions, lost that trust.
“I hope Acting Administrator Wheeler views this as an opportunity to restore this administration’s standing with farmers and the biofuels industry. I’m looking forward to working with Acting Administrator Wheeler to do just that.”
Merkley on his campaign website said Pruitt would not have resigned if the public had not pressured him.
“It was BEYOND time for him to go,” Merkley wrote.
“He was the target of multiple corruption investigations. He called himself a ‘leading advocate against the EPA’s agenda.’ He questioned the reality of climate change. And he has gone to bat over and over for corporate polluters who pump toxins like mercury into our air and water.
“But do you think he would have stepped down if we had stayed quiet? No. Way.
“Your phone calls. Your letters. Your demonstrations. Your discussions with friends and neighbors. THAT is what made the difference here. We came together as a country and said enough to undermining the EPA’s very mission.
“Over the coming weeks, we’ll learn who Donald Trump wants as Pruitt’s replacement. Knowing Trump’s desire to dismantle the EPA from the inside, the choice will probably be someone else totally unqualified, so our work is far from over.”
National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes, a North Dakota farmer said, “It’s no secret corn farmers have been frustrated with Scott Pruitt’s ongoing actions over the past year that have seriously undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
“Even with this leadership change at the EPA, our priorities do not change. We will continue to push the EPA to stop granting unjustified RFS waivers. We expect the EPA to account for the more than 1.6 billion gallons the agency waived from 2016 and 2017 RFS obligations, and we will continue ask EPA to follow through on the president’s commitment to remove outdated regulations to allow higher blends of ethanol like E15 to be sold year-round.
“We are hopeful Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler will work with America’s corn farmers to give consumers more options at the pump to save them money and reduce emissions and provide farmers with certainty in the marketplace that comes with RFS integrity.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said, “Administrator Pruitt’s tenure as administrator of the EPA put a heavy strain on this administration’s relationship with supporters, farmers, and biofuel producers across the heartland.”
We urge the EPA under the new leadership of acting Administrator Wheeler to reinforce those bonds and work as a partner to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the White House in efforts to revitalize rural communities and unleash American biofuels. He can start today by reversing the demand destruction caused by EPA waivers, acting on the president’s pledge to unlock E15, and upholding a strong Renewable Fuel Standard.”
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, “For the past year, Scott Pruitt had been waging war against the Renewable Fuel Standard, the biofuels industry, and the millions of farmers and rural Americans who helped Donald Trump get elected.“
“It appears these missteps finally caught up with Mr. Pruitt, who apparently thought that RFS stood for ‘Refinery First Strategy.’
“Mr. Pruitt’s failure to follow President Trump’s directive to remove the red tape that restricts E15 from being sold in the summertime likely played a part in his demise, and the straw that broke the camel’s back may have been Mr. Pruitt’s recent proposal for 2019 RFS requirements that failed miserably to repair damages done to our nation’s farmers and biofuel producers.
“So, that sound you hear is a collective sigh of relief coming from the Midwest. We look forward to working with Acting Administrator Andy Wheeler, whose long career focusing on policies that recognize economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive is not undermined by an unmistakable anti-ethanol, anti-farmer bias.” ❖