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Acting EPA chief promises ‘change in tone,’ new emphasis on transparency

Acting EPA chief promises ‘change in tone,’ new emphasis on transparency
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The acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is promising to improve how the agency communicates with the public and the media, with a new focus on agency transparency.

John Konkus, the top spokesman for acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, said in a statement that Wheeler is bringing a “change of tone” regarding communications.

The statement did not mention former EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Schumer demands climate measures in infrastructure bill | OPEC, Russia to cut oil output | EPA looks to ease Obama water rule EPA to propose easing Obama water rule Overnight Energy: Senate confirms controversial energy pick | EPA plans rollback of Obama coal emissions rule | GOP donor gave Pruitt K for legal defense MORE, who resigned last week amid numerous scandals. Wheeler, the deputy administrator, had his first day as acting head Monday.

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But Pruitt was often criticized for his fraught relationship with the press and for measures like not disclosing his travel beforehand and only releasing his calendars after being sued to force his hand.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler has already stated that he puts a premium on transparency and that transparency helps the Agency so people know and understand what we are doing,” Konkus said. “I think you can take that mindset and apply it across the board when it comes to how EPA will be communicating with the media and the public going forward.”

Konkus said some of the changes will come in how Wheeler deals with calendars, schedules and press briefings.

Overall, both Wheeler’s supporters and his opponents are predicting that he will likely be very similar to Pruitt on policy matters while avoiding the spending and ethics scandals that brought the former Oklahoma attorney general down.

Myron Ebell, head of energy and environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote in USA Today Sunday night that Wheeler “is fully committed to the president’s agenda, which aims to ensure access to affordable and reliable energy, tackle agency overreach and return the EPA to its original mission.”