U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa today held a joint press conference call to discuss their meeting with President Trump and others at the White House, as well as the confirmation of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey to serve at USDA as Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Audio of the press call is available here. Grassley’s statement:
“Today Senator Ernst and I met with President Trump, Senator Cruz, Senator Toomey, EPA Administrator Pruitt, USDA Secretary Perdue and White House staff. I reminded President Trump of his commitment to maintaining 15 billion gallons a year of ethanol under the RFS, and his commitment to biofuels, agriculture and rural America.
“No deal on RFS reform was reached at the White House meeting. And no assurances or commitments were made to change the RFS ahead of the meeting. Senator Ernst and I attended the meeting because we are always willing to meet with our colleagues to engage in good faith discussions on any topic, especially when the President is involved.
“I understand the President is concerned any time an American’s job could be lost. I am too, which is why I strongly support the U.S. biofuels industry, which 50,000 Iowans depend on for their livelihoods. But ethanol isn’t just important to Iowa. It’s important to 14 other states in the Midwest, and to our national security.
“The potential loss of more than 1,000 jobs at PES would be devastating for the families affected. I’m glad we have a President who cares about these blue-collar workers. It’s important though that we are honest with ourselves when examining these issues. If we don’t look at the facts before reaching conclusions, it becomes harder to fix problems.
“Senator Ernst and I suggested specific policy changes that would be a win-win for biofuels and oil. But we’ve made it clear all along that a cap or waiver credit for RINs would not be a win-win. It would undercut demand for ethanol and undermine the integrity of the RFS. Farm jobs and blue-collar energy production jobs would be lost as a result. I appreciate that President Trump wants to look out for domestic energy production workers. That does not need to be at the expense of ethanol production. The RFS shouldn’t be gutted for interests seeking market advantage in disguise.
“I’m glad that the unrelated hold on Bill Northey was lifted, and he has been confirmed by voice vote. Bill Northey’s nomination to USDA has never had anything to do with a program administered by EPA. Secretary Northey is a highly qualified and honorable man. He and his family waited long enough. I’m looking forward to Secretary Northey’s swearing-in so he can get to work for American agriculture and farmers.”