Feb 8, 2021 - News

Chuck Grassley's post-Trump priorities

Chairman Chuck Grassley speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing.  Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

With President Biden at the helm, Sen. Chuck Grassley is focusing on protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard — a law that had its ups and downs under the Trump administration.

  • "I hope it will be easier than [with] the Trump administration to protect ethanol and biofuels," Grassley told Axios.

Why it matters: The ethanol mandate boosts the price of corn and establishes a floor price for Iowa's most popular crop.

  • RFS requires oil refineries to annually blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol into the U.S. fuel supply.
  • Drops in fuel sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic already hurt farmers' pockets in 2020, and the EPA's unpredictable commitment to RFS under former director Andrew Wheeler didn't help.

His focus: In 2022, the 15-billion-gallon requirement will sunset and could leave Iowa farmers with too much corn, resulting in lower revenue.

  • Grassley said he has urged Biden's EPA nominee, Michael Regan, to quickly issue a rule and commit to the current volume.

What to watch: The Biden administration could move to prioritize support for renewable energy sources, like solar or electric, rather than ethanol.

More from his chat ...

On COVID: The 87-year-old senator said he feels fine after contracting COVID-19 three months ago.

  • Yes, he can still taste his favorite Dairy Queen.
  • Grassley said he was asymptomatic and mostly bored inside his D.C. townhouse for two weeks, including over Thanksgiving.
  • "I didn't even have my wife. She was isolated on the farm," Grassley said.

On his routine: He still runs daily, but he's gone from three miles down to two.

On retiring: Grassley said the virus hasn't slowed him down, but he's expected to announce his plans in the coming weeks.

  • He added that he would be proud of his grandson, Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, if he decided to run for the U.S. Senate.
  • Pat Grassley has declined to tell reporters his 2022 plans ... yet.
  • "It's up to him. Obviously, I'd be very, very proud of him if he were to do that," Grassley said. "And (I'm) also proud of his work as the Speaker of the House."

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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