Ethanol Politics Hold Up Northey Nomination

Cindy Zimmerman

Refinery state senators are hitting back against the Trump administration for bowing to pressure from ethanol supporters last week and abandoning proposed changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) this week put a hold on the nomination of Iowa’s Bill Northey for USDA Under Secretary of Farm Production and Conservation, who was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee last week along with Greg Ibach of Nebraska for Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Ibach was confirmed by the full senate late Thursday but no vote was held for Northey

“Mr. Cruz has put that hold on for purely retaliatory reasons,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen during a segment on Agri-Talk radio show on Thursday. “He doesn’t like what happened last week and the fact that Scott Pruitt has affirmed his support for the RFS.” Dinneen says there is no “policy justification” for the hold.

Meanwhile, Senator Cruz and seven other senators from refinery states sent a letter to President Trump this week asking for a meeting “to discuss a pathway forward toward a mutually agreeable solution” together with Midwest lawmakers. Like the ethanol state senators last week, these senators also played the jobs card, saying that there will be a loss of jobs around the country if reforms are not made to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to roll back the president’s strong commitment to the RFS and undo the pledge issued last week by the EPA Administrator to assure America’s hardworking farmers that the biofuels market will continue to thrive,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

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