Ag Policy Blog

Trump's EPA Transition Head on WOTUS, Climate Change and RFS

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Last week, an advisor for Donald Trump, Iowan Sam Clovis, told Mike Adams on the show AgriTalk that the Trump campaign was "looking very hard at putting a farmer or rancher in charge of the EPA."

Clovis stated, "We think a farmer or rancher should be in there. That's the first thing we'll do."

Clovis reiterated that it was critical for someone at the head of EPA to know where the agency impacts agriculture the most. The Waters of the U.S. rule would be eliminated under Trump.

The Trump campaign did not put a farmer or rancher in charge of EPA's transition team. The transition is actually headed by a fellow named Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment. Ebell's bio:…

For farmers who just want EPA off their backs, Ebell stances fit the bill. He criticized the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year for the high court's unwillingness to take up the American Farm Bureau case against EPA over the Chesapeake Bay. Ebell also is a renowned skeptic of climate science. Ebell actually chairs a group called the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group whose website is funded and maintained by Ebell's employer. Ebell has been a strong critic of the Obama administration's climate policies and the Paris climate agreement.…

So Ebell would support Clovis' claim that a Trump EPA would scrap WOTUS. Ebell also would work to reverse EPA's climate policies such as the Clean Power Plan and other climate-related policies.

Ebell's stance on biofuels also is pretty clear cut. He is a long-time opponent of the Renewable Fuels Standard and ethanol policies. When asked in 2013 about why the Department of Interior warned against the impact the Keystone XL pipeline on wildlife, but didn't make the same stance on biofuels, Ebell commented:

"Well, because it's official government policy to have the ethanol mandate, which requires consumers to buy gasoline that contains ethanol in it,” Ebell explains. “So we're going to have more and more millions of acres plowed under and turned into corn fields, which will reduce wildlife habitat."…

In September 2013, Ebell joined a coalition of groups calling on Congress to abolish the RFS. As the coalition stated in its letter to Congress, "The RFS is a clumsy and misguided command and control mechanism that requires a certain level of ethanol to be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. Gasoline has been required to contain 10% ethanol. The EPA plans to increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline by 50%. This is a horrifically bad idea. Congress has been working towards ending the counter-productive and costly RFS. Debt limit negotiations or other legislative vehicles moving through Congress at this time should not be used to expand regulatory burdens and impose additional costs on Americans."…

Early in the 2012 election cycle, -- right after the Iowa Caucuses -- Ebell wrote in a column responding to the Renewable Fuels Association, "The ethanol mandate raises transportation fuel prices, and as an added bonus it also raises food prices. How patriotic!"…

In 2010, in a column on tax credits for ethanol (which went away) biodiesel, blender pumps and other renewable energy sources such as wind, Ebell wrote,

"All these boondoggles add up to many billions of dollars of wasted taxpayer dollars lavished on big business special interests. The result is higher energy prices for consumers."…

DTN emailed the Trump campaign about Ebell's positions on renewable fuels and how they jibe with the candidate's stance on ethanol. The campaign did not respond. Last month, in an article in the Des Moines Register, the Trump campaign reiterated the candidate's support for the RFS after the Register questioned a campaign position paper that had claimed Trump would repeal the Renewable Identification Number (RINs) program. "Our commitment to the Renewable Fuels Standard is unshakeable and unchanging," said Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, to the Register.…

In Council Bluffs, Iowa, last week, Trump said, “By the way ethanol, we like ethanol.”…

DTN asked Hillary Clinton's campaign about who is leading its transition team for EPA and also for USDA. The Clinton campaign replied that it has not released any information on those transition teams. The Clinton campaign also declined to comment to DTN about Ebell's positions as well.

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


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10/5/2016 | 11:49 AM CDT
It was easy to see who won last night. Who cares what Trump may have said 20-25 years ago when he was a private American. We have all said things that would be held against you if you were running for public office. All rich people hide money,the Clintons,Buffit,Obamas and Trumps they all do it so who cares. Nixon was impeached for hiding less information than Clinton has deleted. Kahne had nothing intelligent to say last night so I guess he and Clinton make a good pair.
10/5/2016 | 7:23 AM CDT
I believe ethanol would do very well on its own merits. Corn and soy beans are just a small part of the entire picture of so called, clean air, clean water and more Liberal mandates that come along, to save us from ourselves. More coal being exported to China to build solar panels at the expense of the American taxpayer, certainly won't keep the atmosphere clean. Of course, that might generate more contributions to a crooked foundation.
Clark Reimer
10/4/2016 | 8:15 AM CDT
As a corn farmer looking at a 2 billon bushel carryover in corn stocks and $1 below the cost of producing corn prices I would hate to see where prices would be if the RFS was repealed. Think about that when you vote on November 8.