I suppose we’re obligated to applaud politicians when we find them actually sticking to their campaign promises, but sometimes the best I can manage is a golf clap.
For the past several days we’ve been following something of a mystery unfolding in the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, had sent out a couple of signals over the summer indicating that he might be preparing to relax some of the crushing ethanol blending mandates in the Renewable Fuel Standard. This was in contrast to promises that President Trump had made on the campaign trail and prompted a severe backlash from the King Corn contingent, particularly the Midwest senators and governors who butter their bread on ethanol subsidies. As of yesterday, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was threatening to hold up some of President Trump’s EPA nominees if anyone dared to cut into the ethanol gravy train. How was it all going to end?
Last night we found out. The Daily Caller is reporting that the White House has stepped in and squashed any attempt to even trim back the ethanol mandates, to say nothing of eliminating them.
The White House ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold off on changes to a federal biofuel mandate amid political backlash from mid-western lawmakers, sources said.
EPA “was told to abandon two changes that were under consideration,” sources told Bloomberg. The move came after President Donald Trump spoke with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Wednesday about possible changes to the biofuel mandate, called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“They didn’t make any assurances on that specific issue” White House press secretary Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday of Trump’s conversation.
So Scott Pruitt had meetings with not only Grassley but Iowa’s Governor Reynolds. I assume he got an earful in both cases. And this was clearly not a battle that Trump wanted to wade into on behalf of Pruitt and the EPA.
Now the spin interpretation begins. It’s looking more and more like the two earlier announcements about scaling back ethanol mandates were no more than trial balloons. Small government and fiscal conservatives have opposed the RFS since it was first put in place under George W. Bush, but it’s been virtually impossible to find any sort of GOP leader who wanted to stand up to the money and electoral influence of King Corn. As it turns out, even with Republican control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, nothing is different in 2017.
Speaking of spin, in a show of party unity, here’s Governor Reynolds talking about what a great guy Scott Pruitt is and how he’s all onboard with King Corn’s continued dominance in the crony capitalism market.
I suppose we need to find a silver lining in any dump of bad news, so the single takeaway here is that Donald J. Trump has once again made good on his campaign promises. He told the people of Iowa that he would hold the line on ethanol blending mandates and now he’s living up to that promise. So… yay? Just my luck that when we finally find a candidate who makes good on his word it winds up being on a promise to do something awful. But he still gets bonus points for integrity I guess.