Steve King criticized the Trump Administration Monday afternoon on their pro-oil industry stances, saying even former Chief of Staff John Kelly had “petroleum lobby” talking points taken to heart in past meetings.
Farmers were questioning King at a Northwest Iowa town hall on why Donald Trump approved 31 waivers allowing refiners to forgo ethanol blending requirements outlined in the Renewable Fuel Standard.
King said President Donald Trump asked him once in the White House whether ethanol ruins engines — a popular talking point among oil executives.
Mike Mart, an Estherville farmer, asked King why Washington politicians don’t seem to understand ethanol does not cause financial harm to the oil industry.
“You guys explain that in Washington,” said Mart, in Palo Alto County. “That there is no hardship whatsoever taking $1.40 [ethanol] and blending it with their $2.50 a gallon and charging $2.50 for the whole thing … I’ve never seen anybody who talks about that in Washington, that there’s no hardship whatsoever … Am I wrong?”
“No, I agree with you,” King replied. “But I would just say I don’t bring up the topic a lot in the House because I’m surrounded by those people that are fine-tuned by the dream team petroleum lobby. There’s a tape someplace I’ve got of me fighting off a whole cluster of them that are making these arguments — it ruins my chainsaw, my boat motor, my weed eater, and my lawnmower. It ruins my car engine. I’ve had these arguments come at me in the Oval Office from then-Chief of Staff John Kelly.”
Kelly left the Trump White House in December 2018. Kelly reportedly said working for Trump was the worst job he ever had.
“I know when he says that the petroleum lobby is in there telling Donald Trump that,” King said. “Even President Trump, he will ask you questions just to test you. You can’t always tell by the question he asks what his convictions are, his decision, but he said back to me when Kelly was jamming this in, he said: ‘Well, doesn’t this ruin your engine?’ And I said, it doesn’t ruin mine and it’s been in everything I’ve had as soon as it was available.”
By Paige Godden