EPA Administrator Michael Regan is set to speak to a press organization that has been a persistent critic of his agency throughout administrations.
The Society of Environmental Journalists announced Tuesday that Regan will deliver the keynote address for its annual conference in Philadelphia in April. He will also take part in a question-and-answer session with journalists.
EPA has a tradition for striving for government transparency and accessibility to the press. That began in 1983 with then Administrator William Ruckelshaus’ “fishbowl” memo in which he urged agency staff members to conduct themselves with “openness and integrity.”
SEJ, however, found EPA has become more closed off to the public in the years since, calling the agency “incredibly secretive” during the Obama administration.
The environmental journalists group was also critical of Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s first EPA administrator who resigned under a storm of ethics troubles, as well as Freedom of Information Act regulations the agency proposed during the prior administration.
Regan will be the first EPA administrator to speak at SEJ’s yearly meeting in 20 years. Michael Leavitt, who led the agency from 2003 to 2005, was the last EPA boss to speak to the group.
Climate change was on the agenda then, as it likely will be again for Regan as EPA pushes forward on several regulations dealing with greenhouse gas emissions this year.
“The surface temperature of the Earth is increasing. Human behavior contributes to it. The increase in the accumulation of greenhouse gases contributes to it. But from there, there are a lot of unanswered questions,” Leavitt said then at SEJ’s 2004 meeting in Pittsburgh.