Ethanol trade groups congratulate, instruct new EPA chief

By Tom Bryan | February 17, 2017

On an almost party-line vote Friday afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. The vote came amid calls from Democrats and environmental watchdog groups to delay the EPA administrator’s confirmation until a review of thousands of emails between his office and oil and gas companies could be completed. Republicans did not wait and Pruitt was confirmed with a final vote of 52 to 46. Only three senators broke party lines.  

While congratulating Pruitt, U.S. ethanol trade groups urged him not to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard—especially the program’s point-of-obligation—and also overturn regulations that hamper the growth of E15.    

“The Renewable Fuels Association congratulates Scott Pruitt on Senate confirmation to become the next EPA administrator,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “As Mr. Pruitt said during his confirmation hearing last month, ‘To honor the intent and the expression of the Renewable Fuel Standard statute is very, very important.’ We could not agree more. We look forward to working with Mr. Pruitt to ensure the RFS remains on track with strong, annual obligations that follow congressional intent. While the RFS remains our priority, we will also continue advocating for the removal of unnecessary volatility restrictions that have discouraged market acceptance of higher level ethanol blends like E15. Ethanol is the lowest cost, cleanest and highest octane source in the world. We encourage Mr. Pruitt to work with us to ensure consumers have more choices at the pump.”

Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, also congratulated the new EPA leader, saying his group is eager to work with Pruitt to help the agency keep the promises that President Trump made about ethanol while campaigning. “EPA and oil company restrictions on the use of higher ethanol blends the last few years have created surplus stocks of corn and put pressure on prices and rural economies,” Jennings said. “According to USDA, net farm income has dropped from $123.7 billion in 2013 to $66.9 billion in 2016—a decrease of 46 percent. From 2015 to 2016 alone, net farm income dropped 17.2 percent. It is imperative that Administrator Pruitt work to help ensure the successful implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard to drive the use of higher ethanol blends, to maintain the RFS point-of-obligation with refiners and importers, and to lift unnecessary restrictions on ethanol use such as the Reid vapor pressure limit. Taking these steps will prevent further harm to rural economies in key states that supported President Trump because of his promises to create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said, “We congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his confirmation as Administrator of the EPA. We look forward to working with him to carry out President Trump’s strong commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard and the issues crucial to the success of the American ethanol industry. America’s ethanol producers and supporters were instrumental in helping bring President Trump into the White House and are counting on his leadership to protect home-grown domestic energy security. We are confident that Administrator Pruitt and his team recognize the important role the ethanol industry plays in supporting American jobs, fostering a vibrant rural economy, and giving American consumers access to 21st century fuels for their 21st century vehicles.”