WHO Radio’s Jeff Angelo Called Ernst’s Defense of EPA Head Andrew Wheeler “The First Controversy” of Increasingly Competitive Senate Race

More than a week after businesswoman and Democratic nominee Theresa Greenfield called for the immediate resignation of EPA head Andrew Wheeler, Senator Joni Ernst’s refusal to follow suit keeps “dogging” her vulnerable re-election.

E&E News reported that Senator Ernst “faces pressure” from 9 board members of the Iowa Farmers Union and leading biofuels advocates to demand Wheeler’s resignation – a former fossil fuel lobbyist that Ernst voted into power, despite his “explicit promises” to abuse RFS waivers at the expense of Iowa’s farm economy. 

Now facing an “increasingly competitive” re-election with polls showing her trailing, Senator Ernst’s six years of rubber-stamping Big Oil’s agenda could erode her support among “deep-red rural counties” and lead Iowa to “tilt Democratic” in November.

Not only is Ernst facing heat over her support for fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, but she’s also under the microscope for cashing in thousands from a Big Oil CEO and corporate PAC after they received RFS waivers worth at least $100 million. 

E&E News: Ethanol boosters want Ernst to demand Wheeler quit

Marc Heller


Key points:

  • Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst faces pressure from political critics to go even further — by demanding EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s resignation.
  • Ernst…hasn’t stepped that far. But her strength in ethanol circles isn’t keeping the issue from dogging her as her reelection campaign looks increasingly competitive.
  • “For too long we have been bearing the unforgiving weight of a federal government and EPA that will seemingly go to any length to protect the profit margins of the oil industry,” former Iowa Democratic Lt. Gov. Patty Judge and several representatives of the Iowa Farmers Union wrote to Ernst on Monday, urging her to echo her main Democratic challenger’s call on Wheeler to step aside.
  • “While calling for this urgent step cannot reverse the damage caused by the vote to confirm Andrew Wheeler in the first place, demanding Wheeler’s resignation is a critical test of your commitment to Iowa’s farmers and biofuel industry,” they said.
  • Ernst’s Democratic rival, Theresa Greenfield, has called for Wheeler’s resignation, pointing to the pending waiver requests as well as 85 granted during the Trump administration.
  • Democrats sense Republicans’ potential vulnerability on the matter and are counting on some of the bad publicity to rub off on Ernst, whose race looks closer than it did a year ago.
  • EPA’s actions have been “really upsetting” for farmers, and the reality in Iowa is that statewide races can tilt Democratic when deep-red rural counties turn light red and reliably blue cities remain so, [Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association] said.