Just two days after President-elect Donald Trump's transition team announced Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was the nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Governors' Biofuels Coalition reminded Trump about his previously stated support for the Renewable Fuels Standard in a letter Friday.
Interestingly, the letter is signed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad -- Trump's nominee for U.S. ambassador to China -- Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, the brother of Chicago Cubs' owner Todd Ricketts, and Trump's nominee for deputy commerce secretary, as well as South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Trump's nomination of Pruitt was curious considering he has been an outspoken critic of the RFS. By and large, however, agriculture interest groups have been fairly supportive of Pruitt's selection because he has been a staunch critic of the Obama administration's regulatory agenda. Pruitt led one of many lawsuits to challenge the waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule, for example.
Where Pruitt stands on the RFS, however, has been reason for pause in some rural American circles.
The letter signed by the trio reads: "Please accept our congratulations on your election as president. We are very encouraged that your administration will prioritize economic growth in rural America. As members of the Governors' Biofuels Coalition, we write on behalf of farm families and thousands of Americans who work in the nation's biofuels industry to thank you for your repeated statements of support for biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard during the campaign. The nation's biofuels industry has generated thousands of jobs throughout the nation, and biofuels will continue to grow our states' economies with your help.
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"We look forward to working with you to advance sound policies that will add value to the agriculture economy. We look forward to a robust and healthy relationship between your administration, America's farm families and our nation's renewable fuels industry. Together with you and Vice President-elect (Mike) Pence, we can help rural America prosper.
When Pruitt's nomination was announced, just one of the two major Washington, D.C.-based biofuels interest groups -- Growth Energy -- offered comment to the press. The Renewable Fuels Association declined comment.
In response to the Governors' Biofuels Coalition letter Friday, RFA President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said the RFA continues to believe a Trump administration will support biofuels. Dinneen did not comment on the Pruitt nomination.
"We thank Gov.'s Pete Ricketts, Terry Branstad and Dennis Daugaard for reaching out to President-elect Trump to thank him for his support for biofuels and the RFS, and highlighting our industry's economic impact that has rippled throughout the nation," Dinneen said.
"The president-elect understands the importance of clean, domestic energy resources and the economic power of value-added agriculture. We are confident he will continue to support the RFS and expanded production and use of fuel ethanol during his administration."
Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst told reporters Thursday she will hold Pruitt's feet to the fire when it comes to renewable energy, including ethanol, biodiesel and wind energy.
"Understand that I will be going through a rigorous line of questioning with Mr. Pruitt," Ernst said, according to the Washington Examiner, http://washex.am/…, "...If he can say he is willing to support those efforts and keep our renewables at the forefront of his thought, you know, we'll be going from there."
During a House Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs' Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management hearing on two Government Accountability Office reports on the RFS last week, Ernst reiterated why the RFS was important to renewable energy states like Iowa.
She said the RFS, "really has spurred investment in domestic energy production, it's helped grow our economy throughout the Midwest, especially in those rural areas, and it's brought a lot of competition -- needed competition -- to the gas pump, and saves American consumers money and reduces reliance on foreign oil sources."
Read the full Governors' Biofuels Coalition letter here: http://bit.ly/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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