Kansas' ethanol stakeholders participated in discussions with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC on Tuesday morning to review the current state of the ethanol industry and how EPA decisions are impacting Kansas farmers and ethanol processors.
Meanwhile, Pruitt toured a farm in Reliance and spoke with about 50 farmers.
Conservative condemnation of Pruitt's behavior has stepped up as Pruitt's ethical problems have deepened.
The EPA typically does not disclose Pruitt's whereabouts, and did not publicize Pruitt's trip to South Dakota on Wednesday until a tweet from shortly after 3 p.m. from Pruitt's official account. A Daily Republic reporter was turned away but later allowed access.
"We want to be respectful, but we want to very forcefully convey to the administrator that we've got real challenges in rural America and we have to preserve the markets that we have", said John Duff, strategic business director for National Sorghum Producers, the organization that hosted the event.
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Kansas Corn Growers Association President Ken McCauley says the group pressed Pruitt on EPA's granting of small refinery exemptions which Pruitt claims he must do for refineries who claim financial hardship. But the search and hiring raises more ethics questions about Scott Pruitt's use of EPA staff as well as his contacts with GOP contributors and outside allies for his personal benefit. "That's a moonshot", farmer David Fremark told Pruitt. The EPA head said petitions have been lodged asking the agency to revisit the finding, calling its passage in 2009 a "breach of process".
Via Twitter, Pruitt said the meeting was "candid and productive". "So, you know, we could - that might be a good swap". He said the agency has seen "a spike in applications".
Several farmers were not satisfied with this explanation, and one suggested that if the formulas used by the DOE were hurting farmers, maybe those formulas should be revisited.
Leo is a prominent Pruitt backer and longtime friend who was involved in arrangements for the administrator's visit to Italy a year ago.
Inhofe and Pruitt both are from Oklahoma, and a number of Inhofe's former aides work in top EPA jobs. "From the Renewable Fuel Standard to the so-called 'Clean Power Plan, ' we are working hard to fulfill the agency's true mission while providing certainty to stakeholders in South Dakota and across the country".