FOREST CITY — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says she talked with President Trump twice on Thursday about the EPA’s decision to grant waivers to big oil companies and reducing the amount of ethanol that must be blended into gasoline.

Ernst says Trump, as well as EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, and other White House staffers were on a conference call as they worked through a number of different options for farmers and those who are working hard in the ethanol industry.  “The whole team was on the phone, Wheeler, Perdue, everyone else, and they were all contributing to the conversation, just so he understood exactly what the mood was here in the Midwest. And I said, ‘you know we’ve got a lot of work to do’.”

Ernst feels like it was a productive conversation, saying that Trump was going to send her some information on how to address the damage that is done by those waivers given by the EPA. “How do we help support our biofuel industry right here in the United States when we see so many exemptions going out the door? So we’re working with the president on that. It seemed to be a very upbeat conversation, but again, he is very concerned about the well-being of the farmers.”

Ernst says she’s optimistic about a solution being found to the issue.  “Great conversation today, but more to follow, because we certainly want to sift through the proposals that have been put forward by the administration.”

Ernst made her comments while attending a Winnebago and Hancock counties GOP fundraiser in Forest City on Thursday night. Ernst is holding town hall meetings in Humboldt and Emmetsburg today before returning to Forest City for a town hall meeting at Waldorf University at 3 o’clock this afternoon.