WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s been “hoodwinked” before — and he’s not ready to predict whether ethanol and biodiesel producers will get relief from the federal government. Grassley was part of a White House meeting last week and while Grassley believes a deal could be near, he’s not ready to celebrate.

“I’m not going to announce anything or say: ‘Cheers!’ until I see it on paper because EPA’s putting it on paper and I know there’s a big voice for ‘big oil’ in EPA,” Grassley said during a conference call with reporters.

Grassley said President Trump was surprised his decision to exempt 31 refineries from their ethanol obligations sparked a backlash in farm country.

“I would speculate that the president’s tired of dealing with this. He’s more or less said so many times,” Grassley said. “Even back when we were in the White House talking about E15, it just seemed like he could never get to the bottom of the ethanol issue or he couldn’t satisfy both ‘big oil’ and the farmers.”

Last Thursday, Grassley — along with other farm state senators — met with President Trump and other key administration officials to discuss the federal ethanol production mandate. Grassley said the discussion started with a White House plan.

“We went in with a simpler plan that, if it comes out on paper the way the White House seemed to agree with us, then I would say we have a win-win situation,” Grassley said.

The goal of the plan, according to Grassley, is to reassign the gallons of ethanol the 31 refineries are no longer required to use to other refineries that are blending ethanol into gas.

“I know that there’s a big voice for ‘big oil’ in EPA,” Grassley said. “I’ve been hoodwinked so many times — not just by EPA so many times on this issues, but by other bureaucracies as well, so I’m going to wait and see if what they talked about is the end product.”

Trump met with oil-state senators yesterday to discuss the deal. Bloomberg is reporting Trump has complained the feud between the ethanol and oil industries is taking up more of his time than dealing with China and Iran.