In Radio Interview, Senator Ernst Called Wheeler “Qualified” to Oversee the Biofuel Industry – Despite Record of Lobbying for the Fossil Fuel Industry
Facing new heat for her vote to confirm fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as head of the EPA, on Thursday Senator Joni Ernst doubled down her support for Wheeler – who has repeatedly thrown Iowa farmers and producers under the bus to protect Big Oil profits.
In a radio interview with KICD, Ernst stormed to Wheeler’s legal defense on 52 potentially devastating RFS waivers for the oil industry, and attempted to justify her refusal to follow businesswoman and Democratic nominee Theresa Greenfield’s call to demand his immediate resignation. But in the effort, Ernst exposed how she ignored numerous warning signs for Iowa’s ethanol industry in order to put Big Oil’s henchman into power:
Senator Ernst called Andrew Wheeler “qualified” to oversee biofuels – despite a resume chock-full of deep ties across the fossil fuel industry:
- Worked as a “powerful” fossil fuel lobbyist, with clients including a fossil fuel giant who paid his firm $2.7 million over eight years.
- Served as chief of staff to “big oil darling” Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe – enacting an agenda custom-tailored to pad oil profit margins.
- Held a reputation as a “rank-and-file member of Washington’s revolving door“
- Deemed ineligible to lead the agency by ethics watchdog CREW.
Senator Ernst said she spoke “at length” to Wheeler during confirmation – but even a surface-level review of his positions spelled doom for Iowa’s ethanol industry:
- During confirmation, Wheeler made “explicit promises” to hand out RFS waivers to Big Oil once confirmed.
- Wheeler was “expected to pick up where the departing [EPA head Scott] Pruitt left off” – favoring Big Oil interests at the expense of Iowa’s ethanol industry.
- When pressed to restrict RFS waivers, Wheeler refused to “commit to any major changes.”
“Trapped in an election year between Iowa farmers and her Big Oil backers, Senator Ernst has once again sided with the corporate special interests bankrolling her re-election campaign,” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson. “Senator Ernst failed Iowa’s ethanol industry when it mattered most by voting for a fossil fuel lobbyist to run the EPA. That’s a record Ernst can’t erase. For the farmers and producers whose livelihoods are paying the price, it’s time for a new senator who will do right by Iowa, and show Big Oil the door.”