The Slatest

In Amazing Coincidence, Billionaire Who Advised Trump on Regulatory “Reform” Got Huge Regulatory Exemption for His Oil Refinery

Side-by-side photos of Donald Trump and Carl Icahn.
Donald Trump and Carl Icahn. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

In December 2016, Donald Trump announced that he was naming billionaire investor Carl Icahn as “a special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform.” In August 2017, a New Yorker investigation by Patrick Radden Keefe found that Icahn had used his special position to advocate for the elimination of a federal rule requiring oil refineries to pay for “credits” if they don’t use enough renewable fuel. In a huge coincidence, Icahn is the controlling owner of an oil-refinery-owning company called CVR Energy that is subject to rule. In an even huger coincidence, Reuters now reports that the EPA has given CVR Energy an exemption from having to buy the credits:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted a financial hardship waiver to an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, exempting the Oklahoma facility from requirements under a federal biofuels law, according to two industry sources briefed on the matter.

Icahn resigned his position last August after the New Yorker and other entities began poking around his behavior and pointing out that it was, you know, an example of blatant corruption. One of those entities, Bloomberg, reported that Icahn’s work for Trump included personally vetting Cabinet candidates such as current EPA head Scott Pruitt:

Within days of his victory, the president-elect ended a Trump Tower interview with Scott Pruitt, his future EPA chief, by directing him two blocks uptown to meet with Icahn. “He has some questions for you,” Trump told Pruitt, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting. 

The next day, Icahn said that he’d “told Donald that [Pruitt] is somebody who will do away with many of the problems at the E.P.A.” And from Carl Icahn’s perspective, that turns out to have been true!