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Senators press Pruitt for concessions

WASHINGTON (AP)  The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is looking to make peace on biofuels standards with a group of senators from corn-growing states who could upend President Donald Trump's nominees for key regulatory posts.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt pledged in a letter to Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and a half dozen other Republican lawmakers to take specific actions benefiting the biofuels industry.

Last summer, Pruitt proposed biofuels targets for 2017 and 2018 set slightly below current levels. This followed a push by oil companies to ease mandates included in the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires ethanol from corn and soybeans to be blended into gasoline and diesel. Though Pruitt's letter said he was still assessing the issue, EPA's current analysis is that those standards should be set "equal to or higher" than the amounts previously proposed.

Trump during the presidential campaign had advocated protecting the renewable fuel standard, which helped his election performance in Iowa, where corn production is vital.

The move came a day after the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works delayed consideration of four Trump EPA nominees. Ernst, a member of the committee, had said she had concerns about the nomination of Bill Wehrum to lead the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, which oversees the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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