After Voting to Confirm Fossil Fuel Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to Head the EPA, Senator Ernst Reunites With Big Oil Friends for Election-Year Boost While Facing Fallout with Iowa Farmers

Today, Senator Joni Ernst is set to attend an event hosted by Heritage Foundation & Heritage Action – a Big Oil-funded group and its dark money affiliate. Heritage was a strong supporter of fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to lead the EPA, and is helping lead the effort to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. 

Today’s event comes just two weeks after Heritage hosted Wheeler to tout his “recent successes” as he considers 58 gap-year RFS waivers that could further undermine Iowa’s biofuels industry. After Senator Ernst and the GOP voted to confirm Wheeler last year, the Heritage Foundation applauded the vote and touted the importance of “reversing unrealistic automobile fuel economy standards” – coded language for undoing the RFS, which would devastate Iowa’s economy. 

Ernst has spent nearly two months taking heat from Iowa farmers over her vote to confirm Wheeler and preferential treatment she’s given to fossil fuel companies in pandemic relief. But instead of changing course and working to protect the RFS, Ernst is once again embracing her vast network of anti-RFS Big Oil backers in order to prop up her increasingly vulnerable re-election.

“By attending an event hosted by one of the notorious anti-RFS lobbies, Senator Ernst has once again proven that her election-year promise to protect our farmers is nothing but a disingenuous attempt to run from her votes to undermine Iowa’s biofuels industry,” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson. “Senator Ernst has cashed in $450,000 in contributions from Big Oil, and credits Big Oil backers for launching her political career. Now facing widespread fallout with Iowa farmers, Ernst is once again turning to the ones who will benefit most with her in Washington: the corporate special interests bankrolling her re-election campaign.”

In recent months, Senator Ernst has doubled down on her vote to confirm former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler – calling him “qualified” for the position and refusing to call for his immediate resignation. Ernst herself was opposed to the RFS before a “politically expedient” flip flop during her 2014 campaign.