Incoming EPA administrator promises ‘overall agenda’ at the agency won’t change much

Incoming EPA administrator promises ‘overall agenda’ at the agency won’t change much
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Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler says that his takeover as head of the agency will not see the EPA shift from its core mission under President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Wheeler said that his first communication to agency staff upon taking over was meant to reassure officials that business will continue as normal.


"I sent out an all-hands statement to all the employees yesterday evening. One, thanking the administrator for his service, and then telling everybody that it’s work as usual — we’re all working together — and that I share the core mission of the agency, which is to protect public health and the environment," Wheeler told the Post.

Wheeler went on to stress that the EPA under his tenure would act only under the terms of its congressional directive, and would not seek to expand its boundaries as he says the agency did under the Obama administration.

"I know that there’s a number of senators that would like us to go much further, but of course environmental organizations would love us to go much further," he said. "But you’re not going to see the EPA, at least under my direction, make up a lot as we go along. We’re going to follow the law that Congress has given us."

One of his main goals, Wheeler told The Wall Street Journal, is to "depoliticize" the conversation around many environmental topics.

“You might see a shift in terms of how I talk about some things,” Wheeler told the Journal. “I have thought for years environmental issues need to be depoliticized. In 1991 when I came to town they were not as politicized as they are today. And I would love to return to that.”

Wheeler took over this week after former EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report EPA asked to justify proposal to limit power of its science advisers MORE stepped down. Trump announced the resignation on Twitter. Pruitt's tenure at the EPA was marred by scandal, and he faced at least 14 ethics investigations into his conduct by the time he left office.