Not shocking: Grassley aide lands plush ethanol lobbying gig

We’ve been covering the ongoing battle over the Renewable Fuel Standard and the ethanol mandate scheme for quite a while here, though it’s currently fallen into something of a lull. The President recently met with senators from oil and gas producing and refining states, allegedly agreeing to look into some relief for those most negatively impacted by the policies, but at least for the time being it seems that King Corn has still come out on top.

So it’s time for some celebrating in the ethanol lobby, right? And what better way to thank their friends in the United States government than by handing out some jobs? The Washington Examiner reports that’s precisely what happened out in Iowa. Senator Chuck Grassley is the most powerful voice in keeping the ethanol mandates in place, along with all the crony capitalism that goes along with it. And his legislative director, who played a key role in those efforts, is moving on from his government job. He should be doing quite well for himself as one of the highest paid lobbyists in the entire ethanol community.

To the victor goes the spoils, and to the winner of a protracted policy battle between legislators and administration bureaucrats over mandated levels of biodiesel usage goes a lucrative gig at a biofuels trade association.

The National Biodiesel Board announced Monday that Kurt Kovarik, a legislative director for Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, will join the group in the new year as vice president of federal affairs — that is, the top lobbyist.

“Kurt’s decades of experience in the United States Senate will serve us well as we navigate the federal policy issues that most affect our industry,” Donnell Rehagen, chief executive officer at the National Biodiesel Board, said in a statement. “His long history of working on energy and tax legislation, his familiarity with the key players in Washington and his knowledge base on biofuels are all reasons why we are so happy to have him on our team.”

Just as the Examiner describes it, this is the same old “revolving door” which has existed in Washington politics for years. When President Trump took office he immediately moved to ban certain executive branch officials from taking lobbying jobs, either permanently or for five years, but that clearly wouldn’t apply to an aide to a senator.

The National Biodiesel Board hasn’t added Kovarik to their staff page yet, but given the tens of millions of dollars they direct into their projects each year, it sounds like things are looking up for him.

As the Examiner article says, to the winner goes the spoils. Conservatives have been fighting these ethanol mandates and the corrosive effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard for years now, but they’ve clearly got the upper hand and are reaping the rewards. Given the number of states where so many jobs rely on oil and gas exploration and refineries, it’s amazing that such a small subset of states can continue to punch so far above their weight class. But unless the White House can be convinced to see the logic in supporting America’s newly dominant oil and gas industry in the global market, little is likely to change.