EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler

EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler
© Bonnie Cash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerBiden 'freeze' of Trump rules could halt environmental rollbacks 15 states sue EPA over decision not to tighten pollution standard for smog 13 states sue EPA over rule allowing some polluters to follow weaker emissions standards MORE is postponing an official trip to Taiwan after The New York Times published a report on its costs. 

The postponement also comes after China forcefully objected to a recent reported Taiwan visit from a U.S. Navy admiral.

The Times reported last week that Wheeler was expected to take a chartered flight to Taipei costing more than $250,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The visit itself, the Times reported, would have cost $45,000. 


But now the agency is putting off the trip, at least for the time being, as first reported by Bloomberg

“Due to pressing domestic priorities at home, Administrator Wheeler’s visit to Taiwan has been postponed,” EPA spokesperson James Hewitt said in an email on Tuesday. 

“However, it is disturbing that a government official would leak deliberative schedules to the New York Times that could jeopardize both international diplomacy and personal security and we are referring the matter to the inspector general,” Hewitt added. 

He didn’t specify when the trip might be rescheduled.

The Times reported that Wheeler was scheduled to spend three days in Taiwan next month, and aides were told to plan a separate visit to Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, or plan for other countries in the region if Wheeler couldn’t travel to those four. 

Hewitt told The Hill on Tuesday that nothing had been scheduled regarding that trip. 


EPA officials noted to the Times that Obama-era EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBiden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation Biden to rejoin Paris agreement, revoke Keystone XL permit  Biden to sign flurry of executive actions in first hours of presidency MORE took a trip to Taiwan in 2014 that cost $68,000, though McCarthy didn't take a chartered flight. 

On Monday, China had pledged a "legitimate and necessary response" following the alleged U.S. admiral's recent visit to Taiwan, which the U.S. has not confirmed. Beijing said it "firmly" opposes any form of official exchanges and military contact between Washington and Taipei.

Taiwan has ruled itself for decades though China considers it part of its territory.