If at first you don’t succeed, lobby a different federal agency.
That seems to be the approach Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is taking in his defense of the renewable-fuel standard. The five-term corn-country executive will testify Thursday at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on its proposed reductions to the corn ethanol mandate and some other renewable fuels, The Des Moines Register reports.
It’s not his first Beltway visit in defense of the RFS. In late October, Branstad met with administration officials from the Office of Management and Budget, which was then reviewing 2014 RFS levels. His pleas evidently went unheard, as EPA announced reduced levels for many renewable fuels last month. Among the officials Branstad met with was Dan Utech, who has since been named President Obama’s top climate and energy adviser.
While Branstad’s first pitch didn’t sway EPA’s initial level-setting, it’s unlikely his follow-up appeals during the mandate’s public comment period will cause the agency to rethink its ruling. But it can’t hurt, as the GOP governor prepares to run for a sixth term, to let his corn-producing constituents see him as the face of opposition to the Obama administration’s cutbacks to corn ethanol. In Iowa, RFS support is almost a political necessity, as even small-government conservatives such as Republican Rep. Steve King have become outspoken defenders of the mandate.
Branstad is also doing a press call Wednesday with renewable-fuels and farm groups to detail the consequences of lowering the RFS.
What We're Following See More »
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."
The government alleges the company put eight “software-based features” on diesel engines in nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years, which allowed the vehicles to emit fewer pollutants during EPA lab tests than during normal driving conditions.
At an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA chief John Brennan said he saw information on Trump-Russia contacts that were worth a further look. "Having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians do. They try to suborn individuals," Brennan said. "And they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf, whether wittingly or unwittingly. And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons, and so therefore by the time I left office ... I had unresolved questions in my mind."
"President Trump is moving rapidly toward assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and Russian interference in last year’s election, and in recent days he and his advisers have privately courted several prominent attorneys to join the effort. By Monday, a list of finalists for the legal team had emerged, according to four people briefed on the discussions."