• The Energy 202: The EPA is targeting biofuels.

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    October 20, 2017

    As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of the congressional committees investigating Russian interference in last year's election, Charles E. Grassley is in a better position than most other Republicans in Congress to tighten the screws on the Trump administration.

    So President Trump raised eyebrows when he telephoned the senior senator from Iowa at the end of August. The topic of their conservation was not Russia, Grassley's office insisted — it was ethanol.

    That the president would take the time to call a senator about a provincial issue amid a high-stakes investigation of international election meddling strained the credulity of some observers.

    But the Iowa congressional delegation and the Environmental Protection Agency, led by Scott Pruitt, are indeed on a collision course over an issue central to the economic viability of biofuels — and to the farmers in Iowa growing the corn and other agricultural products that go into them. Over the past few months, the EPA has proposed weakened requirements for how much renewable fuels needs to be blended into the nation's gasoline and diesel.

    On Tuesday, Grassley told an audience at an Iowa biodiesel producer that the recent EPA proposals “would drastically undermine biodiesel production, and most importantly, it’s contrary to statements made by then-candidate Trump and President Trump.”