The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is in South Dakota, but he’s not getting a warm welcome.
Farmers and ethanol industry representatives say Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions are hurting their industries at a time when they’re already struggling.
Even Republican politicians joined farmers and the ethanol industry to protest the decisions of one of President Trump’s cabinet level officials.
They say Pruitt is hurting the top industry in South Dakota. How? He’s granted dozens of waivers to oil refiners, allowing them to produce gas without the required ethanol blend.
“I am not in favor of him at all,” Robert Walsh said.
Elk Point Farmer Robert Walsh voted for President Trump but says Pruitt is not following through with Trump’s promises.
“RVP and E15 are important things for farmers and the whole state in general,” Walsh said.
Area farmers say this couldn’t happen at a worse time either because of the poor farm economy and uncertainty over trade.
“There are so many things that we cannot control–the weather, the markets, what someone says at three in the morning on Twitter. Most of what we do is not up to us. The renewable fuel standard should not be one of the things we have to worry about,” Farmer and Republican State Representative Kent Peterson said.
The oil waivers have cost farmers around 570 million bushels in corn sales. Pruitt, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, has close ties with big oil. Some here say that’s a big problem.
“It’s time to get President Trump to step up and support the people that elected him and get EPA Administrator Pruitt to do his job. Thank you,” South Dakota Corn Growers President Troy Knecht said.
KELOLAND News did reach out to Pruitt’s office. They did not tell us where he is in South Dakota or let us interview him on-camera.
They did send us a statement:
“Ongoing discussions regarding potential changes to the RFS program have been the result of collaborative engagement between EPA, USDA, and the White House. To suggest that Administrator Pruitt has at any point acted outside of that collective effort is patently false. This is why Administrator Pruitt believes getting out of Washington DC and engaging directly with farmers and other impacted stakeholders is extremely important.” – EPA Spokesman Lincoln Ferguson