Midwest GOP senators meet with EPA administrator nominee

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- We’re less than a week away until Senate hearings begin for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. Among them – the Oklahoma attorney general, who Trump tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

“What I know right now, based upon the ethanol issue, I will support him," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

Grassley says he’s pleased after speaking with Scott Pruitt Thursday. Grassley organized the meeting with Pruitt and senators from several Midwestern states.

“We started out by emphasizing jobs, like the president-elect wants, we emphasized not importing so much, we even export some ethanol and biodiesel as an example," said Grassley.

Pruitt’s nomination is a controversial one. As Oklahoma attorney general, he sued the agency he could eventually lead, because of regulations it set.

“This is a man who has spent most of his career actually trying to undo the work of the EPA," said Danielle Baussan of the Center for American Progress.

Baussan says some are concerned with Pruitt’s stance on climate change. They are also worried he’ll be a mouthpiece for oil and gas industry.

“We need to make sure he’s protecting the interests of all Americans, when it comes to our public health, and not just a few corporate moneyed interests," she said.

Grassley’s Democratic colleague on the Agriculture Committee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), says Pruitt “has been a leading proponent of dismantling the landmark Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The RFS is an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which includes adding ethanol to fuel. Grassley says Pruitt told the senators in the meeting that he supports the RFS.

“He seemed to understand how it worked, and when the Obama Administration had cut it back from the statutory requirements that it was harmful to the ethanol industry," said Grassley.

Pruitt’s not saying much publicly about policy right now. The date for his confirmation hearing is not yet set.

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