The U.S. Senate will hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s choice to head up the Environmental Protection Agency today. Iowa Senator, Chuck Grassley, says nominee Gina McCarthy requested a meeting with him, which she opened and concluded with talk about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The standard sets the number of gallons of renewable fuels like corn-based ethanol that are mixed with gasoline. “RFS is important to EPA, it’s important to the administration and she knew it was important to me. And I didn’t add much to what she said except that I intend to continue to work with her on ethanol,” Grassley says.
The Republican senator says McCarthy didn’t offer specifics about what the RFS might look like under her leadership. The EPA has approved the sale of a E-15, a mixture of 15-percent ethanol and 85-percent gasoline, but Grassley says it has hit problems with availability.
“There’ aren’t enough pumps in at filling stations to disperse E-15, so we are right there at about 13-BILLION gallons (of ethanol) , maybe a little more with production this year probably going to be about 14-billion gallons. So, with E-10 if you don’t have enough gas to mix with it, you are up against a blend wall. So, E-15 was what’s supposed to take care of it,”Grassley explains.
He says it’s now up to the marketplace to distribute the E-15. McCarthy is currently the EPA’s top official on air quality. Grassley says he raised concerns directly with McCarthy about the impact of EPA regulations on electricity costs and manufacturing, including the EPA’s efforts to undermine coal-fired electricity.
Rural electric cooperatives (RECs) receive 80-percent of their power from coal, well above the national average of 50-percent and Grassley says the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives says RECs provide electricity to consumers in every one of the state’s 99 counties.
“People are very concerned about how EPA operates. Many of us have doubts that EPA understands the family-farm operations, but at least President Obama’s nominee to be the next EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, has been on an Iowa farm,” Grassley says.
Grassley says he’s not deciding on how he will vote on McCarthy’s nomination until after her confirmation hearing.