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

By BY TIMOTHY CAMA – 07/09/18 04:40 PM EDT

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 Pruitt, who resigned last week amid numerous scandals. Wheeler, the deputy administrator, had his first day as acting head Monday.

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.