Iowa’s congressional delegation spent much of the past week sounding off against President Donald Trump’s administration over its recent approval of 31 waivers allowing oil refineries to swerve ethanol blending requirements.
The waivers, meant to relieve the blending burden imposed by the renewable fuel standard from small refineries, were also given to some owned by oil giants Exxon and Chevron. That irked U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, enough to use some strong language.
He said the EPA “screwed” Iowans with its decision. He added that these 31 waivers, added to the 38 Trump’s administration approved in 2018, were particularly destructive to the ethanol industry.
He compared them to the fewer than 10 waivers approved throughout the tenure of former President Barack Obama.
Grassley has introduced legislation to make the waiver process more transparent. Now, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has announced she is drafting legislation of her own.
Iowa Democrats have joined the cause. U.S. Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loebsack sent a letter this week to the Government Accountability Office requesting a probe into how the waiver program is being run.
Back in Iowa, members of the agricultural community added their voices to the fight.
“Markets, Not Promises Needed to ‘Make Farmers Great Again,’” the Iowa Soybean Association titled its letter to the president last week, mocking his famous 2016 campaign slogan.
“Farmers need markets, plain and simple,” ISA President Lindsay Greiner said in the letter. “Unfortunately, RFS exemptions are providing refiners with more economic windfall at the expense of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries and U.S. farmers. Policy challenges imposed by your administration are forcing biodiesel producers to shut their doors and lay off workers. It’s becoming more difficult to understand why you’re choosing to support higher profits for oil companies instead of providing some stability for farmers.”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds also added her own criticism of the waivers, calling them “unconscionable.”
Biden, Warren close in straw poll at state fair
Former Vice President Joe Biden pulled a win in this year’s Iowa State Fair Straw Poll, but just barely.
Biden won 17.7% of the more than 4,000 votes at the state fair. He is leading a field of more than 20 Democratic candidates hoping to win the right to challenge Trump in November 2020.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, took away 17.2%.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg came away with 13.8%.
California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris received 8.4%.
Voters also were asked to choose from Republican candidates hoping to challenge Finkenauer in 2020 to represent Iowa’s First Congressional District. Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, received 67% of the vote, compared to Thomas Hansen’s 33%.
Wisconsin congressmen join fight against ‘soring’ horses
U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Mark Pocan, both Wisconsin Democrats, joined a majority their peers in Washington, D.C., in passing the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Ill., has co-sponsored sister legislation in the Senate.
These bills aim to stop the practice of “soring” horses. Soring is defined as “the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses’ hooves to create an exaggerated gait,” according to a release from the nonprofit advocacy group Animal Wellness Action.
Republican enters race for Bustos’ House seat
An attorney from the Quad Cities area hopes to challenge U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., for the state’s 17th Congressional District seat.
Esther Joy King filed paperwork Wednesday as a Republican candidate. The seat represents all of Jo Daviess County. King is also a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, Hotel Julien Dubuque, 200 Main St. — Iowa GOP showcase: Grassley and Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Mason City, will discuss their political lives and happenings in Des Moines and D.C. with Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kauffman
- . Tickets for the event cost $50 to $75.
- 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, Grand Harbor Resort, 350 Bell St. —
Theresa Greenfield, a Democrat challenging Ernst in 2020, will host a meet-and-greet event.